AVON — Sheffield Mayor John Hunter thanked a lot of people during his State of the Village speech Wednesday, but Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams wasn’t one of them.
Williams said it struck him as odd that Hunter would mention his fellow commissioners, Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski, and not him, especially since he was the only commissioner who was at Tom’s Country Place to hear the speeches of Hunter and the mayors of Avon, Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake.
Williams, a Republican, also said he thinks politics may have played a hand in Hunter’s failure to mention him. Hunter, like Kalo and Kokoski, is a Democrat, as is state Rep. Matt Lundy of Elyria.
Hunter also mentioned Lundy, whose campaign against Williams he is running, in his speech.
“John Hunter is one of the most political individuals you’re going to meet,” Williams said.
But Hunter said politics had nothing to do with him not mentioning Williams, whom Hunter said he didn’t realize was at the event. Williams said he had seen Hunter earlier at the event.
Hunter said the reason he thanked Kalo, Kokoski, Lundy, state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, and others was because of the work they’ve done for the village. Williams wasn’t mentioned, Hunter said, because he hadn’t done anything to warrant it.
“I mentioned those people who assisted the village,” Hunter said. “I try to keep politics out of things. I wish he would keep politics out of things.”
Williams said he’s always been supportive of Sheffield.
Manning, who was at the event, said that after a rocky start with Hunter when she first took office, now has a good working relationship with him and noted that he did mention her during his speech. She said she couldn’t say why Hunter mentioned the other commissioners and not Williams.
“I like to think of it as a nonpolitical thing,” Manning said. “(But) let’s face it, when you’ve got politicians in a room, politics are involved.”
Lundy, who wasn’t at Wednesday’s event, said he doesn’t see a political agenda in Hunter not mentioning Williams. He said it’s entirely possible Hunter simply overlooked Williams, something
that’s not uncommon when politicians are being recognized during speeches.
“I’ve been forgotten many times, but never made a political issue out of it,” he said.
Williams said he’s not upset about the incident and his feelings weren’t hurt, but others have taken offense on his behalf.
“Others said it was very low class to do that to me,” he said.
Hunter said he hasn’t heard from Williams or anyone else complaining about his speech.
“If Tom has got an issue, he ought to talk to me,” he said.
John Sobolewski, executive director of the North Coast Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored Wednesday’s speeches, said the event wasn’t recorded.