Incumbent mayor William Judge pulled a win out of his hat to take the Democratic primary Tuesday in the Magic City.
Judge outpolled two challengers, one of them them also the child of a former mayor. With no Republican challenger in November, Judge will serve a third term as mayor.
With 100% of the vote counted, Judge had 1,251 votes, or 49.33 percent. Challenger Carla Debevec, a city council member, received 1,172 or 46.21%, and Steve Brookens, a former professional wrestler and promoter, received 113 votes, or 4.46%.
Judge had appeared vulnerable after a tempestuous year in Barberton politics. In January, the mayor was confronted with a $4 million budget gap, layoffs of city employees were planned and the seven-cell Barberton Jail was scheduled to close.
In addition, a major hit to the city loomed with the departure of Babcock & Wilcox to Akron.
In June, heavy rains flooded residential and business sections of the city, causing millions of dollars in damage.
But Judge overcame those pitfalls to pull out the narrow victory over Debevec.
In a phone interview late Tuesday night, Debevec said she ran a clean campaign and was proud of the effort.
“There’s one thing we both agree on and we both have a love for the Magic City,” Debevec said. “We work for them and we must never lose sight of that.”
Brookens said he was “heartbroken” and had hoped for a better share.
“It looks like the people want another four years of Judge,” Brookens said. “It really breaks my heart; I really tried.”
Efforts to reach Judge by deadline were unsuccessful.
Debevec said it's too early to determine what she'll do politically, but she pledged to work with Judge to overcome Barberton's budget woes.
"I pledge to him and to all Magics to do all in my power to have him lead us through the challenges we are facing," she said.
In two contested council races, both incumbents prevailed.
In the Ward 3 race, Shorter Griffin defeated Ellen Betts 324-210. In Ward 4, Shaun Rockey Jaber soundly beat Patricia Zarle 410-94.
Incumbent Barberton Director of Finance Jeremy P. Flaker won re-election with 1,569 votes to challenger John Kopcha's 759 votes.
Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or emailed at email@example.com.