By the time the polls close Tuesday, voters will have picked a new mayor, at least two new city councilors, at least three new Board of Education members, and a new treasurer.
So change is the wind, whether the breeze is mild or blowing strong.
What isn’t clear is whether voters are ready for a massive overhaul of city government or if they’re basically content with the direction its leaders have taken.
Shortly after the polls close at 8 p.m., taking the pulse of the electorate will get a whole lot easier.
The showcase race is the battle for mayor between Democrat Art Ward and Republican Ken Johnson, each of whom has campaigned vigorously for the chance to take the city’s top job. The incumbent mayor, William Stortz, is stepping down after a single term.
Ward won a bitter primary in September that displayed in raw terms how divided the city’s majority party is these days. Whether the Democrats will come together on Election Day is perhaps the biggest mystery that political insiders are wondering about.
Johnson, whose party claims the allegiance of less than one in five registered voters, has long recognized that he needs to pick up independent and some Democratic support to have a shot at beating Ward, a 14-year incumbent city councilor. Johnson has never held elected office.
The Republicans haven’t had a majority since a 1993 landslide win for the Democrats. Until Stortz won the mayor’s race in 2005, the GOP had held no more than a single City Council seat for a dozen years.
“The current office holders have had the ball for 14 years and have failed to deliver on matters that effect taxes and the quality of life issues,” city Republican Chairman Art Mocabee said Monday.
“The leadership that has been demonstrated by their actions over the last two years does not suggest they will be any different if reelected. It is time to change and we have tried to earn that right,” Mocabee said.
The Democratic chairman, Dean Kilbourne, said Monday that his party “is united and looking forward to victory.”
“The mayor and council will continue the work of the prior Democratic administrations, making strides in economic development, education of our children and the safety of our citizens,” Kilbourne said.
In the treasurer’s race, Republican Mark Anderson and Democrat Bill Veits are vying for the chance to replace longtime city Treasurer Patti Ewen, a Democrat who is giving up the part-time position.
There are three City Council districts, each of which features a hotly contested race. In each district, voters will elect two councilors from among those running for the part-time job.
In District 1, incumbent Republican Mike Rimcoski is angling to hang on to his seat as two Democratic challengers take aim at him: Cliff Block and Rich Kilby.
In District 2, incumbent Democrat Kevin McCauley is seeking a second term, with four others also in the race. The hopefuls are Democrat Bruce Lydem, Republicans Ken Cockayne and Joe Geladino, and independent Mark Blaschke.
In District 3, both incumbents are seeking reelection while Republican Bob Merrick hopes to knock one of them off. Seeking to fend him off are Democrats Craig Minor and Frank Nicastro.
In the Board of Education race, there are 13 candidates. Nine of them be elected to serve for the next four years.
Running for a school board seat are Republicans Jane Holschlag, Wayne Sparks, Amy Coan, Chris Wilson, Dick Prindle and Margaret Bonola.
The Democratic school board candidates are Jane Anastasio, Barbara Doyle, Karen Vibert, Julie Luczkow, Tom O’Brien and Sherry Turcotte .
There is also a Working Families Party candidate for the school board, Mary Rydingsward.
Voters will also pick members of the Board of Assessment Appeals and constables.
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