Former Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic will not run for the job this year.
In an emailed statement to the Beacon Journal responding to a tip, Plusquellic confirmed he would not enter the race as an independent candidate.
In late January, Plusquellic told the Beacon Journal that he was thinking about entering the mayoral race after being asked by several business and community leaders and residents to do so.
Plusquellic was the city's longest-serving mayor for 28 years, but 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.
News of his potential entry into the mayoral primary race earlier this year meant he would have to take on current Mayor Dan Horrigan, who has led the city since Jan. 1, 2016, and is seeking re-election.
In February, Plusquellic decided not to run in the Democratic primary, saying he had grown disenchanted with the party, but said he might file May 6 to run as a nonpartisan candidate.
The Rev. Greg Harrison, a retired police officer, filed in February as the only Democrat to challenge Horrigan. Josh Sines, a former Summit County Common Pleas Court bailiff, is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
In a lengthy emailed statement, including parts taking aim at some current City Council members, Plusquellic said: “first, I want to remind everyone I did not initiate or approach anyone to ask if I should run for mayor. [I wasn't personally after Mayor Horrigan.] And I want to make clear I didn't personally attack him. I probably know better than anyone in this world the difficulties he faced when he stepped up to run in 2015.
“Someone leaked the fact that I told some people who approached me about running again for mayor that I would think about it. When asked by the local newspaper I just simply told the truth — that I was asked to think about it and I was,” he said.
Saying his heart will always be in Akron and he wants the community to be successful, Plusquellic also said he appreciated the many positive things people have said to him as he contemplated a run.
"But I have made the decision not to run," he said. "I made the needs of this city a priority for 41½ years of my life." However, he said the "rigors of running a city" including "huge cutbacks in support from state and federal governments" versus a desire to spend time with his family, particularly his grandchildren, led to his decision.
Plusquellic said he still has family in Akron, including his daughter, an Akron Public Schools teacher, and son-in-law, an Akron firefighter, “so I still care about Akron and try to follow what's going on in my hometown. And I still believe I could play a role in making sure Akron moves forward successfully.”
Plusquellic also addressed what he said was false information that there was a “long-standing feud” between him and Horrigan.
“Several community leaders have encouraged the Mayor and me to sit down and talk and we both have committed to do that. Hopefully we will have a continuous dialogue because in spite of some misleading statements in the articles that were written, there has not been a long standing feud between Dan Horrigan and me."
In his statement, Plusquellic encouraged Akron residents to pay close attention to the City Council races this year.
"I pledge to do what I can to help the good, honest leaders in Akron, including the Mayor and Council President [Margo] Sommerville, elect better people to help them lead the city I still love."
In an emailed statement, Horrigan did not address Plusquellic’s decision not to run, but said he agreed with the former mayor about the need for a strong City Council.
“After being in this office for close to a full-term now, I have a deeper appreciation for the pressures and demands that former Mayor Plusquellic managed for decades,” Horrigan said. “One thing that we apparently agree on is that a functional City Council is essential to the effective operation of city government."
Horrigan said as far as his relationship with the former mayor, “I welcome an open dialogue about how we can continue to build on this community's incredible momentum and potential. I do know that we both share a great love for this City and want to see it thrive.”
It is a good thing that Plusquellic decided not to run, said Ray Kapper, the former mayor's mentor.
"I’m pleased that he’s decided not to [run]. As I've indicated to him more than once, I felt he ought to enjoy what he’s doing at 69," said Kapper, who lives in Florida and has been visited by Plusquellic.
Kapper said he told Plusquellic that he was a great mayor and contributed a lot, but it was time to spend time with his grandchildren and enjoy his life.
But Kapper, reached during a visit to Akron, still hopes Plusquellic will be involved in a nonelected way.
"Let’s hope he stays active in Akron. We need a lot of help," Kapper said.
The city did not need a battle between a former mayor and current mayor at the ballot box, said Elizabeth Bartz, treasurer of a coalition of business leaders who back candidates and ballot issues that promote Akron, including Horrigan's re-election.
"It is good that the mayor is not running because he’s had his time and he’s done wonderful things for the city of Akron," said Bartz, who owns State and Federal Communications. "Our new mayor is new and needs the time to do the same great things for the city of Akron. They both love Akron."
Bartz said it would be good if the two mayors can sit down and work together.
"Akron is in their heart. If we could get those two talking together — what a vision we would have for Akron."
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher