July 28, 2014

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Lorain GOP puts off picking mayor

LORAIN — Today is the first day the Lorain Republican Precinct Committee legally can meet to select a new mayor, but as to when that meeting will take place is anybody’s guess.

Hurst 

That’s because Helen Hurst, precinct chairwoman and the person who must call the meeting, went on vacation last week, according to Lorain Area Republican Party Chairman David Arredondo. Arredondo said he isn’t sure when she’ll be back and didn’t know where she went, other than she’s not at home.

State law says that when there is a mayoral vacancy, the precinct committee cannot meet until five days after the mayor officially leaves office and must meet within 45 days.

Former Mayor Craig Foltin stepped down Thursday to take a financial position with Cuyahoga Community College. Former Sheffield mayor John Romoser is the favorite to be voted in by the committee for the remaining four months of Foltin’s term, since he was chosen to be the Republican candidate for mayor this November.

Arredondo said he’s not too concerned about the delay.

“We’ll get to it in due time,” he said. “I don’t see a problem. It’s just like if Foltin was on vacation for couple weeks — it will be just fine. We’ll get to it as soon as we can.”

That feeling isn’t shared by some members of the committee, who say they didn’t even know Hurst was on vacation and feel like they’re being kept out of the loop.

“There’s a lot of us waiting, waiting, waiting,” said committee member Melanie Szabo. “I’m out of town this weekend, so I won’t be here to get (the meeting time) if it comes then.”

Szabo said leaving the city without a mayor makes the party look inept and goes a long way to convince her that rumors about Arredondo attempting to replace Romoser on the November ballot are true. For that to happen, Romoser would have to agree to remove himself from the ballot, but Arredondo continues to say he does not want the job.

“We’ve got a candidate. He should be the one filling the seat. It’s a no-brainer,” Szabo said. “It makes it look like the Republican Party doesn’t understand what to do, and we already look bad enough.”

Romoser said that although he’d like the vote to occur soon, he isn’t worried that the delay will prevent him from winning the seat.

“They know the timeline just like I do,” he said. “It’ll happen when it happens.”

Safety Service Director Mike Kobylka said the city is operating just as it would if the mayor were on vacation, but he’d like to have someone in office.

“Obviously the city as a whole can operate without a mayor for a period of time,” he said. “It’s the direction and policy part that gets tricky. I’m not an elected official, and while I can run the city efficiently, it’s really the mayor’s role to set policy and priorities for projects."

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