April 23, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Lake mayoral race heads to runoff

AVON LAKE — Voters in Avon Lake will return to the polls Dec. 6 for a runoff election between the top two finishers in Tuesday’s mayoral election — incumbent Mayor Karl “K.C.” Zuber and City Council President Greg Zilka.

Neither man managed to take more than 50 percent of the vote in the three-way race — former Mayor Rob Berner finished a distant third — and without a candidate taking a majority of the vote, the city charter requires a runoff election.

According to unofficial election returns from the Lorain County Board of Elections, Zuber was the top vote-getter, garnering 3,631 votes, or 41 percent of the vote. Zilka was a close second with 3,548 votes, or 40 percent.

Berner, whom Zuber defeated four years ago, took 21 percent of the vote with 1,757 ballots cast in his favor, the unofficial results showed.

Zuber and Zilka both said they weren’t surprised that the race was forced into a runoff, and both planned to be back on the campaign trail quickly.

“We’ve got another four weeks to present our case,” Zilka said.

Zuber said he set aside campaign resources in anticipation of a runoff.

“We’ve been preparing for this,” he said.

Zuber said he was pleased that he received the most votes Tuesday, even if it wasn’t enough to carry him to a decisive victory.

“I would expect to come out on top in the runoff as well,” he said.

But Zilka said that more than half of the city’s voters actually cast a ballot against the sitting mayor.

“Getting 40 percent of the vote doesn’t speak very well of that candidate, but he did get the most votes,” Zilka said.

Berner, who is the executive director of the Lorain County Rural Wastewater District, said he was disappointed by the results, but will abide by the voters’ decision. He said he currently has no plans to run for office again.

“We had a pretty conservative message of change and evidently the voters of Avon Lake aren’t as conservative as we thought,” Berner said.

He said he remains concerned that the two remaining candidates in the race won’t do enough to rein in spending.

Elections board Director Paul Adams said his staff has already begun preparations for the runoff — which is expected to cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.