August 22, 2014

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Independents win seats on Lorain City Council

Kevin Stitak, of Lorain, and Greg Argenti check election results Tuesday night. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Kevin Stitak, of Lorain, and Greg Argenti check election results Tuesday night. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

LORAIN — Election Day was also Independent’s Day for two City Council candidates who will join the all-Democratic Council Jan. 1.

Independent Gregory Argenti narrowly defeated Democrat Dave Burgess 577 to 551, a less than 2 percentage point margin, for the 4th Ward seat, according to unofficial election results. Current Councilman Bret Schuster took office in 2006 and chose not to run again to pursue business interests.

Joshua Thronsberry and his wife, Jeni, celebrate Joshua's victory for Lorain Council 4th ward.

Joshua Thornsberry and his wife, Jeni, celebrate Joshua’s victory for Lorain Council.

Argenti, the 59-year-old owner of Argenti Auto Body, said it was important to add diversity in traditionally Democratic Lorain. Argenti, who said he knocked on 400 to 500 doors, said many residents said they didn’t know their councilman.

He said he would better represent constituents, “even if their interests differ from (my) own.”

Argenti, a first-time candidate, said he spent $7,800 on his campaign. He credited his victory to being well known in the community and receiving support from local labor unions, which traditionally back Democrats.

Argenti also had more time to campaign than Burgess.

Argenti began campaigning in May. Burgess, a 63-year-old retired banker who spent $4,162 through mid-October, didn’t begin campaigning until being chosen by the Democratic Party on Aug. 8. He replaced Roberta DiFilippo, who dropped out.

Burgess, who isn’t conceding until all overseas and provisional ballots are counted Nov. 26, said his banking background would’ve made him an asset on Council.

“Obviously, the voters of the 4th Ward didn’t feel the same way,” he said.

Another independent, Joshua Thornsberry, defeated Councilman Frank DeTillio, D-8th Ward, 917 to 733, or 54 percent to 46 percent, according to unofficial results.

Thornsberry, a 32-year-old middle school teacher and first-time candidate, spent $8,631 through mid-October.

Frank DeTillio, Democrat and 8th ward candidate, stands with Corey Shawver, executive director of the Lorain Democratic Party, as they check the poll results on Tuesday.

Frank DeTillio, Democrat and 8th ward candidate, stands with Corey Shawver, executive director of the Lorain Democratic Party, as they check the poll results on Tuesday.

DeTillio replaced Craig Snodgrass in January after Snodgrass became Lorain County Auditor. Thornsberry portrayed DeTillio, a retired Lorain County Chamber of Commerce president, as part of a “good old boy’s club” which has controlled Lorain for 30 years.

“They seem to make rules and laws that benefit the few,” Thornsberry said. “(Voters) want somebody in there that’s willing to fight for the many.”

Thornsberry, who received union support like Argenti, said DeTillio, who spent $10,134, was unresponsive to constituents concerns about development.

DeTillio, 66, said that was inaccurate.

“When you don’t get invited to meetings, it’s tough to attend them,” he said.

In other races:

  • Councilman Brian Gates, D-1st Ward, defeated Libertarian Kendra Sheppard 560 to 270, or 67 percent to 33 percent. Gates credited balanced budgets, anti-blight efforts, road improvements and job gains in Lorain since he took office in 2010.
  • “I had a lot to point to, to prove how effective I was,” said Gates, a 35-year-old Lorain County Juvenile Facilities youth worker. Sheppard, a 50-year-old transportation coordinator, didn’t return a call.
  • Council President Joel Arredondo, a Democrat, defeated Republican Eli De Los Santos 4,939 to 1,587, or 76 percent to 24 percent. Arredondo, a 66-year-old car salesman who took office in 2008, said voters trust him. “People see that I’m able to listen to their concerns, learn their issues and be able to lead.” De Los Santos, a 33-year-old banker and first-time candidate, didn’t return a call.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com,