April 21, 2014

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Student to lead Lorain safety forces

LORAIN – Outgoing mayor John Romoser has chosen 21-year-old college student Andrew Winemiller to hold the second-highest position in the city – safety service director.

The city`s safety service director oversees the police and fire departments, as well as all city employees and buildings and administers policy as directed by the mayor.

The position brings with it a hefty salary of about $93,000 a year, or about $7,500 a month for the 10th-largest city in the state.

Winemiller is the youngest person to hold the position, a distinction heldpreviously by the man he is replacing, Mike Kobylka, who was 27 when he took the job last year. Kobylka resigned from his position Friday to take a job as a lobbyist for a Cleveland-based advocacy group for manufacturing jobs, MAGNET.

Winemiller, a Republican who lost his election bid for Council president to Democratic incumbent Ken Shawver Tuesday night, began his new job in City Hall on Tuesday.

“It means I`ll have plenty of energy to spend late nights catching up,” Winemiller said of his age. “I`m going to have to do some learning on the run and listen to people who have more experience than I have. But I think I`ll be fine.”

But Winemiller may have to step down in January, since Romoser lost his election bid for mayor to Councilman Tony Krasienko, D-at large.

Romoser has only held the job for two months after replacing former Mayor Craig Foltin, who stepped down in August to take a position at Cuyahoga Community College.

Krasienko said Tuesday that he`d be willing to interview Winemiller for the job, however.

Winemiller is a junior at Heidelberg College, majoring in political science and history, but has been working in City Hall for more than a month now as an intern.

He and Romoser had grown close over the past year, being the only Republican candidates running in Lorain, and Romoser hired him to do clerical work in the mayor`s office. Romoser said that despite his age, Winemiller is more than qualified to do the job.

“He got to work a minute after taking the oath of office,” Romoser said. “He`s very good at getting things done.”

In hiring Winemiller, Romoser passed over Chief Deputy Safety Service Director Jana Gerbocova and Deputy Safety Service Director Joe Arendt and Operations Officer Mike Scherach for the job.

Romoser said Gerbocova and Scherach turned the position down. Romoser did not ask Arendt because the mayor “wanted to go in a different direction.”

“(Winemiller) is very personable,” Romoser said. “He gets along with people. He has a track record of doing that.”
Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.