December 17, 2014

Elyria
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Challenger wins Vermilion mayoral race

VERMILION — The City of Vermilion will have a new face at its helm.

Mayor Jean Anderson lost her bid for re-election by about 400 votes to challenger Eileen Bulan.

According to unofficial results from the Lorain County Board of Elections, Bulan tallied 1,048 votes to 978 votes for Anderson, or 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent — a 3 percent margin of victory.

Unofficial vote totals from Erie County indicated a wider margin, with Bulan getting 1,080 votes to 752 for Anderson, or 58.9 percent to 41.1 percent.

Bulan, 64, who will be the city’s mayor for the first time, is no stranger to city government, having served in posts including the city’s director of public service and clerk of council.

“I knew it was going to be a pretty tight race but we worked really hard and won,” she said.

Saying she ran on a platform of pledging to have better relations with City Council, Bulan, who owns and operates a local boatyard with her husband, Richard, said she believed part of the reason for her victory was the division that has existed within city politics.

“There’s been a lot of friction for some time,” she said. “I believe the mayor had a difficult time working with council.”

Although somewhat surprised by the vote, Anderson agreed.

“It’s true,” she said. “It has been difficult since the night I took office, when my directors were not approved by council. That was unheard of in this city. Council was pretty well poised from the get-go that they were going to be difficult to deal with. I don’t think it really changed that much in four years.”

A former financial manager for an Elyria firm, Anderson, 58, said feedback during her campaign had been positive in the past few weeks.

“I felt it would be closer than what the outcome was,” she said. “Voters will be voters and sometimes they surprise you. Clearly they’ve spoken and I can accept that. They let us know what they want.”

Anderson said she leaves the city “in a better place than when I started. We’ve made a lot of improvements. I’m very proud of my record and what I accomplished … and of all the work of my volunteers.”

Calling Vermilion a “wonderful town,” Bulan said the city has a lot of issues to work on, including infrastructure. Citing her experience at grant-writing for the city, Bulan hopes to renew that work once she’s in office.

“I was pretty successful at that and hope to be so again,” she said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.