September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Lake mayoral race was county’s costliest

The two were neck-and-neck when it came to votes and spending, but it was actually the candidate who spent the least who would become the next Avon Lake mayor.

Mayor-elect Greg Zilka spent about $2,100 less than incumbent Karl “K.C.” Zuber in his successful bid to unseat the one-term executive.

According to unofficial election results, Zilka defeated Zuber by a razor-thin 29 votes in a runoff held Dec. 6 after none of the three candidates running garnered 50 percent of the vote in November — a requirement courtesy of a 2001 change in the city charter.

Zilka, whose campaign spent $31,347, according to campaign finance reports that were due Friday, actually spent the least of all three candidates who ran for Avon Lake mayor.

Former Mayor Robert Berner, who lost his re-election bid to Zuber four years ago, spent the most with $33,679, followed by Zuber with $33,464.

The Avon Lake race was the most expensive of all the mayoral races in the county this year. The next closest was in Lorain, where Democrat Chase Ritenauer spent $19,834 in his bid to become his city’s next mayor.

His opponent, Republican Tim Baxter, spent nearly $15,000.

Ritenauer still had more than $20,000 left in his war chest after the November election, compared with Baxter, who walked away with only $5.73.

Ritenauer may have shunned spending big as a result of lessons learned in his primary election battle, where he defeated incumbent Mayor Tony Krasienko despite spending $15,000 less than his opponent. Ritenauer spent a little more than $44,000 in the three-way Democratic race, which also included at large Councilman Mitchell Fallis.

The largest mayoral spending gap was in the Elyria race, where Democrat Holly Brinda outspent her Republican opponent 4 to 1.

Brinda, who won the seat, spent nearly $19,000, compared with Ray Noble’s $4,221. Brinda had nearly $4,000 left in her war chest.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or awright@chroniclet.com.