October 20, 2014

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Lorain will go without mayor

LORAIN — It looks like Lorain will have to go on without a mayor after all — at least for five days.Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza said Wednesday that the threat of a possible lawsuit against the city kept him from submitting a legal opinion that would allow
Council President Ken Shawver to be acting mayor while a new one was picked.

Provenza

Current Mayor Craig Foltin will serve his last day today as the city’s executive, but the Lorain City Republican Party precinct committee cannot meet until five days later to vote on a replacement for the remaining four months of his term. Foltin has taken a financial position at Cuyahoga Community College.

State law does not address who, if anyone, should fill the mayor’s spot until the committee can meet Tuesday, but it does say that a council president takes over when the mayor is absent but intends to return.

“I tried to look under every legal rock to find a way to have a mayor,” Provenza said. “I just can’t believe there isn’t a mayor."

Other law directors across the state told him the council president should take over; however, city officials from other Ohio communities said they didn’t have anyone when their mayor left early.

Provenza said he opted against recommending Shawver be put into the job when he thought about what would happen if a resident sued because the city was paying Shawver a mayor’s wage for those five days based entirely on the legal opinion of the law director.

Shawver makes an annual salary of $10,866, while the mayor makes $93,740 a year.

“If I erred in expressing an opinion … that caused someone to sue us, I would not be helping anything,” he said.

The city will still run as if the mayor was on vacation, however, with the administrators picking up the slack.

Only a few city issues will be affected, including one less vote in Planning Commission this week, since Safety Service Director Mike
Kobylka will have to fill the mayor’s spot and conduct the meeting. The Board of Control meeting, in which the administration is allowed to authorize spending without Council’s approval for purchases less than $25,000, will have to be canceled.

John Romoser, the Republican candidate for mayor in November, is the clear favorite to become interim mayor when the committee does meet. The 66-year-old real estate agent is a former mayor of Sheffield.

In November, Romoser will be squaring off against Democratic candidate and current at-large Councilman Tony Krasienko and Paula Tobias, who is running as an independent.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.