Opting not to waste time recruiting a candidate for Akron mayor, the Summit County Republican Party may have abandoned partisan elections in Akron, but that hasn’t stopped some GOP faithful from stirring themselves to try.
Josh Sines, a perennial candidate and weekend ring announcer for mixed martial arts and wrestling matches, has filed as the only Republican running for mayor. And Brian Fortney, a manager for global sales at Rockwell Automation, thinks he has a chance to win a city council seat in Northwest Akron, the last corner of the city to elect a Republican in the 1990s.
GOP candidates are running everywhere but Ellet, Firestone Park, South Akron and West Akron.
Fortney calls himself “the most liberal Republican you’ll ever meet” because he rejects red-meat issues that divide America. Local governing, he said in a recent interview, is about coming through on core city services like taking out the trash or filling potholes, not discussing abortion, gun control or security along the southern U.S. border.
Fortney has crunched the numbers in Ward 8, which includes Fairlawn Heights, Wallhaven and everything to the north. He thinks he’s found enough precincts with fewer Democrats than independent and Republican voters to flip the seat, held now for seven elections by Democrat Marilyn Keith.
And Keith, who Fortney respects, is now running for an at-large seat, leaving the post undefended by a Democratic incumbent.
If elected, Fortney said he’ll open a fund to return his public salary to the community through grants. As an example, he talked about a police officer who lives next to him but couldn’t get out of his driveway during a recent snowstorm. “I’d have cut a $40 check from the account to have his driveway plowed,” Fortney said.
Sines said he thinks he can win by tapping into customer dissatisfaction, which he believes peaked last month when the city took twice as long as many of its neighbors to clear streets of snow and ice.
The men are optimistic, but not naïve, about their chances. Then-Republican Eddie Sipplen ran against Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan in 2015 during the last general election. Without the financial support of his party, from which he is now estranged, the Akron defense attorney gathered one vote for every three cast for Horrigan.
Sipplen ruled out another run this year. He said Wednesday that, among other reasons, he talked himself out of running after thinking about the lack of support from the local GOP and having to run as a candidate in the party of President Donald Trump, whom he rejects.
Sines doesn’t mind losing, and he hasn’t given up on fighting to inject conservative rule in a City Hall dominated by Democrats. After Emilia Sykes walloped Sines to keep her seat in the Ohio House this past November, he told his Facebook fans that he would let them know about a possible recount. (There was no update as his followers paused for laughter.)
“I didn’t think we could win it,” he joked this week about the race last year. “This race [for mayor], I’m not sure.”
Republican candidates who made the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline filed for:
• Akron mayor — Josh Sines of North Howard Street.
• At-large — Cynthia Blake of Bisson Avenue; Henry Morgan Todd of White Avenue; Monica Renee McNatt of Sumatra Avenue; and Osita C. Obierika of Sherman Street.
• Ward 1 — Brenda Rongone Costarella of Fir Hill.
• Ward 2 — Todd Richard Kleintop of Jean Avenue.
• Ward 3 — Michael Scott Downey of Brown Street.
• Ward 6 —Jaclyn Marie Williams of Pauline Avenue.
• Ward 8 — Brian Fortney of Stockbridge Road.
• Ward 10 — Amy Marie Allen of North Martha Avenue.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.