Lorain Democrats Delay Pick Of November Mayoral Candidate

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, center, speaks at a January event with Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr., left, and Police Chief Cel Rivera, right.
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, center, speaks at a January event with Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr., left, and Police Chief Cel Rivera, right. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
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Updated: 4:25 p.m. 6/6/19

Most of the Democrats seeking to succeed Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer in November have been bumped from contention after a legal opinion from the county prosecutor’s office.

Ritenauer announced his resignation in early May, days after he won the Democratic primary unopposed.

The Lorain County Democratic Party had planned to pick from six candidates to fill out the final months of Ritenauer’s term and run for the office on the November ballot.

But state law prevents candidates from running for mayor in November if they sought a different office in the primary, Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Innes wrote in a letter to the county board of elections.

The law stops candidates who lose in the primaries from running in the general election as independents or on behalf of a different party.

“Although this statute is commonly referred to as a ‘sore loser’ statute,” Innes wrote, “it prevents anyone who has appeared on the ballot in the primary from running in November whether or not their candidacy was successful.”

That meant five candidates were ineligible to appear on the ballot as mayoral hopefuls in November: acting Mayor Joel Arredondo, Treasurer Karen Shawver, Councilwoman Mary Springowski, Councilman Mitchell Fallis and council candidate Tony Dimacchia.

Only former State Rep. Dan Ramos, who did not seek any office in the primary, remained.

Anthony Giardini, the chairman of the party executive committee, said the party would still pick a candidate on Sunday to finish out the unexpired term. But he said Democrats would hold off for a few weeks on selecting a mayoral candidate for November.

“Five days isn’t enough for new people to express an interest in seeking that ballot appointment,” Giardini said. “In fairness to those Democrats in the city of Lorain who might want to put their name in contention, we felt like the fair thing would be to give at least a few weeks’ time to do that.”

He said Fallis, Shawver and Dimacchia had withdrawn their names from consideration to fill the rest of Ritenauer’s term.

But not all candidates are dropping out.

Springowski, who won the most votes in the at-large council primary, said she’s still in the running fill out the unexpired mayoral term. She said she was looking at legal options that might allow her to seek the office in November, such as asking for an injunction or a possible special election.

“I plan on being Lorain’s first female mayor,” she said.

Arredondo, who served as council president until he stepped into the role of acting mayor, said he would remain in the running to finish out the year as mayor. He’s running unopposed in November for another term as council president.

Giardini was skeptical that the law could be changed in time for the election.

“People can argue and complain about the law,” Giardini said. “I’m one of them. I think it’s a bad law. I think it’s something that ultimately the legislature may want to address. But they’re not going to be able to address it in the timeframe that we need.”

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