Former Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic is considering a bid to run for mayor again.

The city’s longest-serving mayor, who was in office for 28 years, confirmed late Monday night to the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com that he is “thinking about it” when asked about rumors that he might run.

In a series of text messages, Plusquellic said he has not made up his mind.

“But I will say that I have been approached by some business people who offered to raise money for a campaign. And I have received numerous texts from some community leaders and residents encouraging me to run again. So I am at least considering whether it is something I want to do,” he said. Plusquellic declined to name any of the business people and said he didn’t want to put business and community people in a difficult position if he decides not to run.

The filing deadline for the May primaries is Feb. 6.

Plusquellic, 69, has been out of City Hall since his surprise resignation in May 2015, blaming the Beacon Journal’s coverage of his administration in part for his decision to quit.

If he opts to run for the city’s top office again, he’d take on current Mayor Dan Horrigan, who has led the city since Jan. 1, 2016, and is seeking re-election.

“This is an individual who abruptly quit because a newspaper editorial called him ‘the B word,’ ” Horrigan said in an emailed statement Tuesday morning. “In his resignation letter, Plusquellic told the world he was ‘done fighting the madness.’ It was clear then, and now, that bitterness and stale, personal feuds with council members, the local paper, and even federal decision-makers had unfortunately poisoned his ability to lead the city into its a new chapter of growth and prosperity.”

News of Plusquellic's potential run comes as Horrigan's administration faces continued criticism after it took days to clear city street's following last week's major storm.

In his texts, Plusquellic criticized some of the changes that have been taking place in Akron since he left office.

“The truth is that in spite of making much more money, getting to spend more time with my grandkids including traveling with them to various places and not having the stress of the Mayors job, my heart is still in Akron,” he wrote. “ I agonize over many things I see happening (ie.eliminating the Summer Arts Experience program for students at Lock 3 and ignoring the $200 billion of foreign business investment that comes on average every year to the US).”

Horrigan, 56, dismissed Plusquellic’s criticisms, saying the current administration is more in touch with local needs. Chief of Staff James Hardy said the Summer Arts Experience program predated other options for kids interested in the arts during summer break. Eventually, it "struggled with enrollment" while "competing with nonprofits for grants."

“I am extremely proud of the reinvigorated energy and strategic focus my administration has created and will continue to build upon,” Horrigan said. “For the first time ever, we have a collaborative city/county/chamber economic development plan that will refocus efforts on local growth, economic inclusion and small business support. The economic vision of the past was heavily focused on international attraction to the disadvantage of local small businesses here in our community. I make no apologies for realigning resources to focus more on supporting and building our local economic base, reinvesting in neighborhoods, growing the population, and addressing longstanding disparities across the community.”

In his texts, Plusquellic also said “all of the things” he talked about regarding his feuds with federal Judge John Adams and Akron City Councilman Bob Hoch and the threat to local ownership of Akron’s hospital “have all come true.”

“So yes,” he said, “I am thinking about it.”

Adams and Plusquellic battled throughout the former mayor’s tenure over everything from a federal suit involving the city’s firefighters and a billion-dollar order to fix Akron’s sewer system. Two years after Plusquellic left office, Adams was disciplined by a federal oversight committee for alleged misconduct involving a magistrate.

Plusquellic ordered the police chief to tell Hoch not to attend the State of the City speech in 2015; the former mayor’s spokeswoman at the time said the councilman had made threatening statements to Plusquellic during council meetings. In an unrelated case, Hoch pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating ethics laws.

Plusquellic also spoke publicly about his fears that Akron’s hospitals were losing local control.

The Cleveland Clinic became minority owner of Akron General in 2014 and full owner about a year later. Summa Health has announced it’s seeking a new, bigger partner.

Plusquellic surprised many in 2015 when he decided not to run for re-election, opening the door for Horrigan, a fellow Democrat.

But the two apparently have not been on friendly terms. They disagree on who’s at fault for their icy relationship.

When asked on Monday whether he had reached out to Horrigan about his potential interest in running for mayor, Plusquellic texted: “In spite of my efforts for last 3 years to go through 5 individual mutual friends/leaders in Akron to help set up a meeting with Danny and personally extending my hand to him at the Kennedy School when he was first elected and at the Celebration of Life held for Russ Pry, Danny has refused to meet.” Former Summit County Executive Pry died unexpectedly in 2016 after recovering from colon cancer while in office.  Kennedy School, Plusquellic said, is “Newly Elected Mayors institute at the Kennedy School of Govt at Harvard where i was asked to teach for 3rd time in Dec 2015.”

Horrigan denied refusing to meet with the former mayor.

“I have never turned down an opportunity to meet with Plusquellic,” he said. Horrigan said he expressed his willingness to meet "to third parties, but it has never gone further than that. And he has never called me directly, at the office or otherwise.”

When he was asked if he would file in time for the Democratic primary by next week or run as an independent if he decides to seek office again, Plusquellic said he would have no further comment. He declined requests Monday night for an in-person or phone interview.

Said Horrigan: "I am proud of the progress this community has made together over the last three years and welcome the opportunity to compare my record and vision against any challenger." 

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Reach  Doug Livingston at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com