Akron City Council’s three at-large members won in the Democratic primary Tuesday, leaving Councilman Bruce Kilby without a seat.
Kilby, who represents Ward 2, opted to run at-large rather than challenge Councilman Jim Hurley when a redrawing of the lines forced them into the same ward.
Jeff Fusco, Linda Omobien and Mike Williams soundly defeated Kilby, according to unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.
“It was a good evening on the whole,” said Williams, the most veteran member of council. “I would have loved to have seen Bruce pull off a victory.”
Kilby could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Williams was pleased by another upset: Tara Mosley-Samples, who directed his 2011 mayoral campaign against Don Plusquellic, beat Ken Jones, the Ward 5 councilman, and three others in a five-person primary.
“The people of Ward 5 have spoken,” said Jones, who has been a councilman since 2008 and was a supporter of Plusquellic. “Unfortunately, it was off of false pretenses.”
Jones says Mosley-Samples included inaccurate information in campaign materials in the days before the election about how much sewer rates are expected to go up under the city’s massive system overhaul.
Mosley-Samples, an Akron Municipal Court bailiff, declined to respond to Jones’ claims.
“It’s over,” she said from a victory party she was attending with Williams and Omobien. “He made a lot of accusations against me, too.”
Jones filed a challenge with the Summit County elections board, saying Mosley-Samples didn’t meet the residency requirement to run for the ward seat. The board ruled in her favor.
“I knew the residents were in need of a change, and they wanted change,” Mosley-Samples said.
Rich Swirsky, won the hotly contested race for the new Ward 1 seat that puts Highland Square into a single ward rather than the neighborhood being divided among four wards. He defeated friends and neighbors who competed in a race that featured a battle of yard signs but steered clear of jabs.
“I’m just grateful for all the people who helped me,” said Swirsky, a Firestone High School teacher and longtime community activist.
The other Democratic ward races featured no upsets, with council members Margo Sommerville, Russel Neal Jr. and Donnie Kammer easily defeating their challengers.
The primary secured seats for some council members, while others will face competition in the Nov. 5 election. Akron council has three at-large and 10 ward seats, with all currently held by Democrats.
The Democratic council-at-large members will face off against the three winners in the only Republican primary matchup, with Karl Johnson, Chris Kormushoff and Linda Robinson beating Charly Murphy in a four-candidate race to secure the spots on the November ballot.
Sommerville, Neal and Mosley-Samples have no challengers in November, while Kammer and Swirsky will be on the general election ballot. Council members Marilyn Keith in Ward 8, Mike Freeman in Ward 9 and Garry Moneypenny in Ward 10, the council president, had no primary opposition but do have competition in the fall.
Hurley, whose new ward is centered on North Hill, where he’s from, is the only council member who had no competition in either the primary or general election.
The at-large race pitted two council factions.
Fusco, in his second stint on council and a former deputy service director, has the support of Plusquellic, who bankrolled an effort against Kilby that dredged up issues from as long as 15 years ago. Kilby, in turn, put out a negative campaign piece on Fusco, accusing him of being a “rubber stamp” for the mayor.
Kilby, Omobien and Williams painted themselves as the candidates who are willing to ask tough questions and stand up to the administration, while Fusco emphasized his ability to work with Plusquellic and other council members to get things done.
Fusco said he was pleased by his victory, but disappointed in Jones’ loss.
“Ken Jones has done an outstanding job,” he said. “In terms of the dynamics of council, I think only time will tell how that will be affected.”
Williams called the negative ads on Kilby “uncalled for” and “pretty cowardly.”
The voters “sent us on to the November campaign,” Williams said. “We will be prepared if they decide to put us back in office. We will be prepared to make some change in City Council government.”
Omobien thanked voters for their support and said she will continue “to work for the citizens of Akron.”
Voter turnout was low, as is typical for a primary, but was steady in certain areas of Akron, including at Northwest Family Recreation Center on Shatto Avenue, where Ward 1 candidates and their supporters made last-minute pitches.
The Ward 1 race was personal for Cassady Dishman, 24, who was once neighbors of the three Democratic candidates who live on North Highland Avenue: Swirksky, John Bryan and Chuck Heimbaugh. One of them coached her in basketball, and she went to high school with the daughter of another of the three.
“I think [having all the candidates] made it hard to choose for a lot of people,” Dishman said.
Sandra Tyson, 81, said she made up her mind early in the Ward 1 race and didn’t let the stream of competing mailers distract her. She was confused, however, by the at-large race and decided not to vote in it.
Tyson said she sometimes has a hard time keeping up with local happenings because of the competing state and national news.
“I don’t know what they think the main issues are,” she said of the at-large candidates. “I do know one: sewers. And, we’ve been hearing that for a long time.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics. Beacon Journal reporters Katie Byard and Doug Livingston contributed to this report.