Voters choose Jim Forthofer for mayor, support city parks and issues

By Karen Cornelius and Melanie Williamson

Tuesday, November 7, was another exciting election night for the Greater Vermilion Area. Voters were generous in their support of the city’s Parks Levy and all the Erie and Lorain counties’ issues. Incumbent trustees for Vermilion Township and Brownhelm Township were all returned to serve again.


The highlight, of course, was the race for mayor of Vermilion between Jim Forthofer and Fred Ostrander, both currently city council members. Forthofer pulled ahead early with an unofficial vote count of 902 in Lorain County and 811 in Erie County making the total 1,713. Ostrander unofficially received 486 in Lorain County and 492 in Erie County for a total of 978,


Hosting a watch party at Blind Perch, mayoral winner Forthofer stated that he thought residents were voting for the future of Vermilion, not the past history. He said the vote was clear, and perhaps partly because he also emphasized his interest in promoting businesses and seeking new business for the city. “I hope to continue the positive legacy of mayor Eileen Bulan. “I don’t want to backslide, but take important steps forward,” said Forthofer. He thanked his fiancee, Susan Cieslak, for her unlimited support. He said her 35 years of teaching in the Vermilion Local Schools was a long history which helped him build on it. He also thanked his treasurer, Suzanne Zadell, all the campaign volunteers, and the voters. “The extent of the support I got really compells me to do a good job and try to fulfill everyone’s expectations.”


Another victory went to the Parks Levy Committee, Vermilion Parks and Rec Board members, and Dana Corogin, parks supervisor. Early votes showed the levy at first was very close, a nail-biter, but the final unofficial vote was 753 versus 668 in Lorain County and 810 versus 487 in Erie County. “We are all over the moon, ” said Elizabeth Wakefield, Parks board chairman. “We are so thrilled. It was a great win, and we are so excited.” Wakefield said the passage of the levy was a team effort all the way. “There were so many wonderful people that worked on the campaign and Dana who was the king-pin. We are absolutely grateful to the voters who are spending their own money to support their parks. It is exciting to get such a good response.”


The parks supporters hosted their party at Rudy’s where Corogin was beyond thrilled hugging everyone. She was so excited it passed in both counties and that they had a positive, transparent campaign. “I’m proud to be part of this talented, dedicated group,” said Corogin. She saw the vote as a barometer of the public giving parks a direction to move forward. She had an opportunity to talk to people and learn what they would like in the parks. “Now we have sustainable funds for our green spaces. She said everything now is deteriorating and its important to fix things and move forward. If the levy had not passed, she felt the parks would crumble. “We are exhuberant. I’m feeling really speechless.


One goal, said Corogin, would be to have a methodical process to move forward as well as the costs for the next five-ten years. There would be a punch list of repairs and a dream list. “There are a lot of people with ideas that now we can entertain at some point.” First, are the basics, clean restrooms, clean beaches, fixing the city pool, the gazebo roof, the veteran bricks at Exchange Park, etc. “Now we can do it.”


In other races, Vermilion Township voters have returned trustees Ron Dickel and Charles Trinter. In Brownhelm Township, voters have returned Orrin Leimbach and Jim Northeim. Also in Vermilion township voters supported the fire levy replacement, and an option for Friendship to have liquor sales on Sunday from 10 a.m.until midnight.


Lorain County voters passed all three of their county issues and supported Issue Three for the Tuberculosis Clinic at 28,201; Issue Four for the 911 Service at 34,206; and Issue Five for the Lorain County Drug Task Force winning with 32,357. In Erie County, voters passed the EHOVE Joint Vocational School District levy by 7,701.


At the Photojournal deadline on Tuesday night, State Issue One on crime victim’s rights was passing while State Issue Two on prescription drug prices appeared to be failing.


Walking in unopposed to the Vermilion Local School Board are Chris Habermehl and Sara Stepp. Unopposed for Vermilion City Council are John Gabriel, Ward I; Frank Loucka, Ward II; Steve Holovacs, Ward III; Barb Brady, Ward IV; Brian Holmes, Ward V; Monica Stark, council-at-large, and Steve Herron, council president.


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