November 22, 2014


2 independents get union help in Lorain races

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

Joshua Thronsberry and his wife, Jeni, react to Joshua’s victory for Lorain Council. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — As Joe Thayer was celebrating Independent 8th Ward City Council candidate Joshua Thornsberry’s Tuesday victory over Democrat incumbent Frank DeTillio, Thayer was being denounced across town where the Democrats gathered to watch election results.

Joe Thayer

Joe Thayer

“Joe Thayer is done!” an angry DeTillio supporter screamed as the results came in. The anger typified the split between Democratic Party leaders and local union leaders like Thayer, an organizer with Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 33 and former Lorain County AFL-CIO president. Thayer, a Democratic Party precinct committee member, has been banned from attending meetings since supporting  Thornsberry.

The historic alliance between Democrats and labor unions took a hit in Lorain when Mayor Chase Ritenauer and Council’s dilution of a local hiring agreement in March included a stipulation that workers unionize, poisoned the waters.

The fracture led to the unions backing Thornsberry and Gregory Argenti, an Independent 4th Ward candidate who defeated Democrat Dave Burgess. Burgess hasn’t conceded and is awaiting the counting of provisional ballots.

Kevin Stitak, of Lorain, and Greg Argenti check election results Tuesday night.

Kevin Stitak, of Lorain, and Greg Argenti check election results Tuesday night.

Thayer said unions donated about $11,000 to Thornsberry’s campaign. Harry Williamson, Lorain County AFL-CIO president and Communication Workers of America Local 4370 president, said between $7,000 and $8,000 was donated to Argenti. The unions gain leverage on Council, but both the candidates and Thayer and Williamson said the candidates won’t be union pawns.

“It’s not about the party,” Thayer said Wednesday. “It’s about supporting the right person for the job that’s going to fairly represent everybody.”

Despite the animosity, Williamson said bridges haven’t been burned and union leaders are willing to talk to Ritenauer and compromise on some issues.

“But it’s a two-way street,” he said. “We’re tired of giving and getting nothing in return.”

Ritenauer, who said he’s also willing to talk to the union leaders, said he congratulated Argenti and Thornsberry Wednesday on their victories.

“There’s a time for elections and there’s a time for governing,” he said. “There’s no Democratic way to pave a road and no Republican way to tear down a house. Local government is about providing service.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Union pawns indeed…………………..but its still gardwennies puppet show…………lets the show resume with a new cast of puppets……………

  • Rear_View

    I talked to Josh while he was campaigning and hope he keeps true to his words and beliefs!!! Sorry, but there was NO DOUBT in my mind Frank is one of the ‘Good ol’ Boys’ run by Tony G. and the PROBLEM PARTY (formerly known as the Democratic Party)… You consistently see the same ol’ names on the ballot who are responsible for running this city into the ground. They’ll do or say ANYTHING to make sure THEY (not YOU or ME) come out ON TOP!!! Here’s to hoping Josh and Greg make some progress for the citizens of Lorain and can DISRUPT the personal and political agenda of Tony G. and his band of misfit cronies!!!

  • Denise Caruloff

    What I find interesting, the monies spent on these campaigns …and perhaps the obligations that comes with those funds. Thou it has been said in this particular story that they will not be union pawns…I find it hard to really believe that that will be the case. Thayer even said the unions rank the party.
    It brings to mind when Dennis Flores (Democrat) ran for the 2nd ward as councilman…he had no endorsements or support from any of the Democrat party official’s…but more like they campaigned against Dennis!
    His support and funds came from his constitutes…and no where near the amount candidates have received in the present and past elections.
    The true beauty of Dennis Flores on the floor of Lorain city council, is that he owes not one favor to any party or affiliation. His loyalty is to his constituents, and he honors that pledge everyday of his time served on the floor. His oath is to the citizens of Lorain and the 2nd ward…and as it should be for all of those who represent this city.

    When the Democrat party or group says jump, he does not have to ask…”how high?” He is truly his own man, and owes no favors. He will never be in a position to decide between what the party wants and what the citizens need. I trust that will remain true, and the two shall never meet.
    denise caruloff

  • Joe Thayer

    Just to clarify, Organized Labor was not the sole contributors to either campaign. This was expressed last night in my interview with the Chronicle but not reflected in this article. While it is obvious that Labor was involved in these races these races were both won by the hard work, commitment, and dedication of many individuals, who are diversified in back ground and belief, and who want change. Most importantly were the candidates themselves who went door to door speaking with the residents, gaining their confidence and respect, in their respective wards. Josh & Greg will not let you down. Equally as important were the residents who came out to vote. Thank you for exercising your right, regardless of who you voted for.

    • Denise Caruloff

      neither were in my ward,,,but I did want both to win. I am with hope that they will do for the citizens as to always come first. I believe it was you Joe that called Dennis a republican spy…while that was comical, it was sad at the same time. I believe now that you have a better understanding of that remark. I wish these two well..and I will keep a hope for the future of lorain and it’s growth. What is right for citizens should always come first…parties or groups…last.

      • Joe Thayer

        Denise…You are correct that about my statement regarding Flores. It wasn’t personal. I am not sure why I would have a better understanding of the remark. I fully understood the statement when I made it. I have no regrets about the positions I have taken with people and issues. They reflect what I think is right at the time given the circumstances presented. While I may not always agree with Dennis’ views or positions I do know he is very committed to representing the ward that elected him. Again, give Josh and Greg a chance. They are both equally committed to the communities they will represent.

        • Denise Caruloff

          I will do that Joe…and I will keep a hope in my pocket just for safe keeping. I had talked with josh..and I liked what he had to say…and I know they campaigned hard door to door…as that is truly where the votes come in…talking and walking…every door that opens is a chance to say hello…my name is……..

          We have been blessed to have such a councilman in this fallen down broken 2nd ward. There have been many that have tried to take him down including tony Giardini..and perhaps continue to try…but we are the voice,,and it will be heard as often as we can say it and as often as long as someone is willing to listen.

  • mike

    This is what happens when you mess with Ohio unions. They will rally and win against ANY OPPONENT even democrats. The mayor of Cuyahoga Falls who support Governor Kasichs union busting SB5 also learned that lessen which is why after 28 years he is no longer mayor!!

    Don’t mess with unions…END OF STORY

    • stillsleepyeyes

      True that……….they will run you into the ground……………………..just like the town………………..END OF STORY

  • Conservator440

    The proof shall be in the pudding. Will they be truly independent, or will they walk lock step in line with the democrat party masters who have brought this city to the fabulously wonderful state that it is in.

    In fairness, the mayor has been modestly successful in walking the tightrope. There have been modest improvements, and there is so very much that needs be done. Much more needs to be proven before one can even begin to use an unqualified success for anything that happens in slow-rain.

  • Suzan Smith

    The entire state needs open, non-partisan primaries that encourage more candidate and voter participation! The candidates are forced to reach appeal to more voters than just the party faithful. I agree, it is not about party. Tony G, and county Dem party should not prevent party members from participating because they want non-partisan solutions to Lorain’s problems.

  • SniperFire

    ‘former Lorain County AFL-CIO president. Thayer, a Democratic Party precinct committee member, has been banned from attending meetings since supporting Thornsberry.’

    Don’t you just love the neo-Stalinism of today’s Democrat party?