ELECTION 2019: Amherst mayor Mark Costilow unopposed, not so for council



Mark Costilow is expected to serve another four years as mayor of Amherst.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans are fielding an opponent this year for the city’s top executive seat, according to Feb. 6 filings with the Lorain County Board of Elections.

Costilow, who succeeded Republican mentor David Taylor, has gained trust on both sides of the aisle since taking office in 2016.

“I think people knew that I was ambitious but I really don’t think people thought I would spend the amount of money we needed to to start getting things accomplished and get caught up with technology,” he said.

Under Taylor, Costilow learned how to be financially conservative when needed but now cash is flowing more freely than it did during the recession years.

In his second term, he wants to continue to upgrade the city’s technology infrastructure, improve security at city buildings, prioritize street maintenance, and renovate the second-floor auditorium at city hall.

Other primary election filings show Republican Jennifer Wasilk is unopposed as president of city council and Democrat Tony Pecora will continue to serve as law director.

Also safe is Democrat Brian Dembinski, who was appointed last spring to replace ward one councilman Steve Bukovac, who stepped down to become Amherst’s IT director.

Other races are more contentious.

Four candidates seek to fill three at-large seats, which means all but one will find success on the November ballot.

They include Democrats Martin Heberling III and David Janik and Republicans Bradley Lacko and Phil Van Treuren.

Janik and Van Treuen are incumbents and Heberling was named in January to take over for at-large Joe Miller, who was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. Lacko, who previously worked as an Amherst firefighter, unsuccessfully sought election to the first ward seat in 2017.

In the second ward, Republican incumbent Ed Cowger will face a fall challenge from Democratic newcomer John Horn.

Horn entered the political arena this year by circulating a referendum petition that would ask voters to remove penalties for Amherst residents convicted of certain misdemeanors involving marijuana.

In the third ward, Republican councilman Chuck Winiarski will serve the remainder of the year but has chosen not to run for reelection.

Two new faces — Democrat Jake Wachholz and Republican Shelma Bockey — will face off in November.

The only Amherst race that will actually appear on the May 7 primary ballot will be for the fourth ward city council seat, where Republican incumbent Matthew Nahorn will run again.

But two Democrats will square off in the primary: Andrew Flynn and David Kovacs. Only one will advance to face Nahorn.

At the Oberlin Municipal Court, which hears cases from western Lorain County communities, Thomas Januzzi of Amherst is unopposed and will remain judge.

The board of elections will meet today to certify petitions. It is possible that some candidates could be deemed ineligible if there are issues with the signatures they collected.

There is one big asterisk next to all of this: Independents still have a chance, slight though it may be, to get in the game.

Independent candidates can file by Aug. 7 in any local race, though historically they have not found victory.

Also on the local ballot is a 10-year renewal levy of Amherst’s half-percent income tax, which is split between the city’s general and street maintenance funds.

To the west, readers in Brownhelm will get to vote on a five-year renewal of a two-mill levy for fire and ambulance coverage.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is April 8.