September 20, 2014

Elyria
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Newcomers win wide support

ELYRIA – Mary Siwierka and Marcus Madison.

Although both are new to the political scene, they both were well known in Elyria long before Tuesday`s primary election.

Madison is the 21-year-old spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County and Siwierka is a Cleveland Clinic administrator who had served as the longtime assistant to former Mayor Mike Keys.
And on Tuesday night, they stole the primary show as they both knocked off incumbents.

Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large, who supported Madison from the beginning, said he called to congratulate the future councilman soon after the final results were posted on election night.

Madison has no Republican opponent in November for the 5th Ward seat.

“Marcus is just a good kid,” Callahan said. “He`s young and has a good future ahead of him.”

Callahan said he ran for the first time in 2005 and garnering the 5,253 votes needed to secure his election.

The victory came about after many long days on the campaign trail, he said.

“I was lucky enough to win my first time out,” he said. “That doesn`t happen often.”

That said, Callahan said that he knew as soon as Siwierka announced her candidacy in February that the at-large race would be hard fought.

“I was sure she was going to gain a spot. But I didn`t think she was going to outpace (incumbent Councilman) Mike Lotko,” he said. “When she placed her name in the hopper, I was pretty sure one of the incumbents was going to lose. That`s why I worked very hard because I didn`t want to take any chances.”
Lose she did not. Siwierka didn`t just win a Democratic nomination for one of four at-large seats on City Council, she got more votes Tuesday than any of the four Democratic incumbents.

Callahan finished second, and incumbents Mike Lotko III and Vic Stewart II rounded out the pack with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively.

Councilman Kevin Brubaker, was ousted with Siwierka`s victory. Going into Tuesday`s election, he said he knew winning one of the four spots would be a crap shoot at best.

By looking at a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of unofficial election results provided by the Lorain County Board of Elections, it was evident that Siwierka had support from all areas.

She was the top vote-getter in 21 of the city`s 41 precincts. But she got the most support in the 3rd and 4th wards.

Of the 2,225 votes Siwierka received, about 47 percent came from the 3rd and 4th wards – areas that are currently represented by Republican Garry Gibbs and independent Mark Craig, respectively.

Siwierka lives in the 3rd Ward and campaigned heavily there, she said.

Siwierka led the pack in the 4th Ward with 543 votes and the 3rd Ward with 521 votes. She finished first in the 1st and 6th wards as well, and she finished a strong second in the 7th Ward.

However, low voter turnout in those wards did not produce the high numbers seen in the 3rd and 4th wards.

In the 2nd Ward, only nine votes separated Siwierka from Callahan, who received 157 votes. Likewise, in the 5th Ward, Siwierka was just six votes behind Lotko.

Lotko has held firmly to the title of top vote getter in a primary or general election since 1999.

Craig said the order of finish for the at-large race was notable.

“Equally significant — is the fact that Vic Stewart II came in fourth place and Mike Lotko III came in third,“ Craig said. “These are strong signals of change.”

Gibbs agreed.

“This is going to be an interesting next few months,” Gibbs said. “I think some of the old guard on Council should be worried. I think come November there will be some new faces on City Council.”

Siwierka said she only hopes that one of those new faces will be hers.

In order to get there, she said she plans to continue with the same campaign strategies she used to win in the primary election: door-to-door canvassing, attending block watch meetings, talking to people at community functions and talking to residents at every opportunity.

“I`m a first-time candidate, but a longtime campaigner,” she said. “I have very broad support in the city to which I am very pleased with and humbled by. I couldn`t have done this without my family and committee.”

In his victory, Madison knocked out incumbent Kevin Krischer, who was elected as an independent but declared himself a Democrat in his re-election bid.

The precinct numbers for the Madison-Krischer contest – a third candidate, Jeffrey McCullough, did little campaigning – show a dividing line for their support.

Krischer dominated the northern portion of the ward, where he received 83 votes compared with Madison`s 68, according to the precinct breakdown. To the south, Madison was the clear winner – collecting 159 votes compared with 50 for Krischer.

“I actually walked door-to-door in the entire ward,” Madison said to explain his campaign strategy that saw him hit some areas several times. “I live in precinct D. That`s where I grew up, and I`m sure the people there remember me versus the other areas of the ward where my reputation is not as well-established.”

Callahan said he believes Madison won because he understands that the best campaigns are grassroots campaigns. It`s about knocking on doors, engaging residents and asking questions, he said.

All are things Callahan said he will continue to do from now until November, when the field of at-large candidates increases to nine.

In November`s general election, the four Democratic nominees will face the top four Republican vote-getters from Tuesday, as well as independent Tim Quinn, in a fight for  four at-large seats.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.