December 21, 2014

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Krasienko sworn in as Lorain mayor

LORAIN — There was barely room to stand at noon Saturday in Lorain City Hall’s council chambers as Mayor-elect Tony Krasienko raised his right hand.

Packed as it was, though, there wasn’t a peep from the crowd as he took the oath of office from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

When Krasienko’s hand lowered, he was no longer an at-large councilman — he was mayor of Lorain, and legions of Democratic supporters were roaring approval.

“I’ve watched him up close,” Brown told the audience. “You know he’s ready to be mayor.”

Voters thought so, too. They chose Krasienko over Republican incumbent John Romoser and independent candidate Paula Tobias in early November.

Krasienko received about three times more votes than either of his opponents, winning 67.8 percent of the ballots cast.

He said his support was overwhelming because his message was so simple. He hammered those same points home in his inaugural speech Saturday.

“I’m a realist. I see the challenges before us,” he said. “People are going to know the good things in Lorain.”

His platform wasn’t based on pie-in-the-sky promises but on the very basic concerns that touch ordinary residents, he said.

“We’re an old industrial community,” Krasienko said. “We have issues with our housing and we realize that … If we continue to let things deteriorate, it will never turn around.”

“We’re going to become the city that people want to move into again,” he said, promising to “make Lorain safe again,” prevent employers from leaving and rejuvenate neighborhoods.

His pledge to do something about Lorain’s crime problems became a bit more personal last week when his West 25th Street home was burglarized Thursday night.

The culprit busted through the front door, rifled through drawers and got away with a jar containing $10 to $12 of pennies, he said.

Krasienko told police he returned home about 10:30 p.m. and saw the broken door. A black man in a Cleveland Browns jacket and knit stocking cap was spotted walking away, according to police.

“You feel invaded, feel a little exposed,” Krasienko said.

If people — including the mayor — can’t feel safe in their own homes, then nothing ambitious like lakefront development or big industrial expansion will ever work, Krasienko said.

Thus, his first task in office will be to sit down with police and fire personnel and learn how to make the city’s public services more efficient.

At his elbow will be Safety Service Director Dan Given, who served as an at-large councilman with Krasienko.

Given was named Saturday after weeks of speculation. He was chosen for the post because of his ability to handle big workloads and for his experience as council’s finance chair, Krasienko said.

“We’re really going to be slicing into our spending and maximizing efficiency,” Given said.

Just throwing money at problems won’t stop the violence and flow of drugs in Lorain, he said. It has to be spent intelligently.

Helping will be Krasienko’s campaign coordinator, Richard Romero, who was named as Given’s deputy.

Krasienko has tasked Romero, a public relations consultant, with changing Lorain’s image and making residents more comfortable talking with officials about their problems.

Ken Shawver, who served three terms as council president and a longtime steel worker and plant manager, also has been tapped as one of Krasienko’s deputies.

The mayor said he wants Shawver’s experience in labor relations and human resources.

Given and Shawver will have to step down from their council posts, county Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Smith said.

They are expected to tender their resignations by Wednesday and Lorain Democratic precinct members will have 30 days to name their replacements, Smith said.

Also named to Krasienko’s team is University of Akron professor Chase Ritenauer, who the mayor said will work on special projects.

Administrative assistants Debbie Alves and Elizabeth Foster will also stay on, Krasienko said.

Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.