December 20, 2014

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ELECTION 2013: N. Ridgeville has 10 candidates vying for Council

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — They may need a second starting gate for the May primary battle to fill City Council’s three at-large seats.

“It is a little crowded, isn’t it?” City Council President Kevin Corcoran said with a laugh.

A Republican, Corcoran will be seeking his third term on Council as one of 10 primary candidates evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The slate of candidates includes three Republican incumbents. In addition to Corcoran, Roseanne Johnson will be going for her second consecutive term after having previously served on Council from 1988 to 1998.

Bernadine Butkowski, who was City Council president for a time, will be going for her eighth term. Butkowski is the longest-tenured current member of Council.

The slate of Republican candidates includes newcomers Martin DeVries and Timothy Gates. “We wanted to make sure that everybody who was an incumbent was going to try their best,” Corcoran said.

“The philosophy on the Republican side was we didn’t want anybody to skate by and rest on their laurels,”  said Corcoran.

Republicans were “a little surprised” by DeVries’ decision to run, according to Corcoran.

“He mentioned in the past he might run but only pulled petitions a day or two ago,” Corcoran said. “Nobody thought he was actually going to run.”

DeVries is a member of the city’s Board of Zoning and Building Appeals.

Until a day or two ago, Gates’ name was mistakenly listed among Democratic at-large candidates, according to Simmons, who said he brought the error to the attention of board of elections officials.

Democrats will begin meeting this week to start formulating a campaign strategy, as well as setting up candidate night programs and meet-and-greets for the candidates.

The Democratic side of the ticket includes Jerry Armstrong and Bob Chapek, who each previously ran unsuccessfully for ward seats. The other three Democratic candidates — Jim Leonard, Alan L. Simmons and Richard Sinwald — are newcomers, according to North Ridgeville Democratic Club head Jim Vargo.

“We were extremely impressed with the fact of how sincere these people were about wanting to serve,” Vargo said.

Simmons, 55, who is currently unemployed, said he decided to run out of concern over issues including the case of former Parks and Recreation Department director Jim Spaulding, who resigned in 2010 after a probe of alleged on-the-job drug use by himself and an assistant.

“How can this kind of thing go on right in City Hall?” Simmons said. “Who is monitoring operations of the city? This has me very concerned.”

Simmons also cited what he said was the “horrendous” quality of city streets in certain older neighborhoods that are prone to flooding problems.

Leonard is a 26-year employee of the Lorain Public Library System, including 10 years at the North Ridgeville Branch Library. He serves as an executive board member for the Service Employees International Union District 1199.

Leonard also serves as treasurer of the North Ridgeville Democrats.

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