September 30, 2014

Elyria
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Close NR at-large race will change Council makeup

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The political make-up of North Ridgeville City Council will change following Tuesday’s at-large election, which saw a Democratic incumbent defeated, and a Republican veteran return to city politics.

“I don’t want to celebrate too hard as it was so close,” said Republican Roseanne Johnson, who declined to say much until the admittedly close results are official. “But if it holds up, I’m thrilled. I feel great but I’m a little reserved about it at the same time.”

Johnson, 55, is a familiar face to observers of North Ridgeville politics. She served five terms on City Council between 1988-1998. A realtor, she served as bailiff for retiring Elyria Municipal Court Judge John Musson for 12 years. Johnson said earlier she was making a run to return to council in part because her husband, Safety-Service Director Denny Johnson, will be retiring at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by former North Ridgeville mayor and state senator Jeffrey Armbruster.

Johnson collected 3,372 votes, or 16.4 percent of the vote, to finish third in a six-person race that also saw Democratic at-large councilman Ray McLaughlin III defeated in his bid for a second term, according to unofficial results. All three Republican candidates won election.

“It is what it is,” McLaughlin said late Tuesday. “People vote for whoever they want.”

McLaughlin, a millwright and assistant North Ridgeville High School football coach, is the son of the city’s former Safety-Service Director Ray McLaughlin, who served under Mayor Floyd Peaco in the 1980s. The junior McLaughlin said he believes the city will be in good hands with those who were elected. “They’re all good people. They’ve got experience and have been involved.”

Unofficial results from the Lorain County Board of Elections showed that Republican Kevin Corcoran led all candidates with 4,184 votes, or 20.3 percent of the vote. Corcoran, 41, an attorney for Bob Schmitt Homes, Inc. in North Ridgeville, also led a field of nine candidates in the May primary when he got 30 percent of the vote.

Republican Bernadine Butkowski, 66, won her seventh term on council, garnering 3,687 votes. Butkowski currently serves as City Council President.

First-time Democratic candidates Richard Winrod and Michael Whitlock came in fifth and sixth respectively, with 3,234 and 2,904 votes, or 15.7 percent and 14.1 percent. Winrod trailed McLaughlin by a mere 10 votes in the unofficial numbers.

“I wish that whoever is in there will do the best for the city,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and am going to be around. Just because I’m not on council doesn’t mean I won’t pay attention and not be involved.”

McLaughlin said one concern he has is the city’s much-debated Planned Community Development (PCD) legislation governing mega-housing developments numbering hundreds of homes, condos and multi-family units. “I hope that whatever council does, should they bring that back up, that they will be cautious so we don’t end up with the same problems.”

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