McBeth prevails Wins Akron mayor race; third time’s a charm for Barr on Ephrata Borough Council
DENA REEDY and PATRICK BURNS Review Staff
, Staff Writer
Voters in Akron Borough have made their choice in the contentious mayoral race and four other contests.
The turnout may have been low, but incumbent GOP Mayor John McBeth (474 votes) held off a challenge by independent Greg Fitzpatrick (284 votes).
McBeth thanked the voters of Akron "who recognized and appreciate the job I’ve done" in returning him to office as mayor for a third four-year term.
Fitzpatrick said it was a remarkable day for Akron politics.
"I congratulate (McBeth) and wish him well," Fitzpatrick said after results were tallied by the 758 voters.
Both mayoral candidates and their teams remained outside the polls at Akron Fire Company into the final hour of voting Tuesday.
McBeth and Fitzpatrick said they were pleased by the turnout, which both estimated to be at about 600 voters around the time the polls closed.
There are 3,800 people who call Akron home.
Reasons cited by voters for casting ballots there ranged from anger, concern, and simple civic pride.
One woman said an unsigned attack letter she received last week – sent from an out-of-town post office with no return address – compelled her to vote.
The letter charged that the mayor benefited by skirting rules regarding the collection of fees for performing marriages.
"I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but it sure turned me off," she said. "It made me come out and vote McBeth."
McBeth denied any wrong-doing and labeled the letter "a disgrace."
Another woman hinted that she was concerned about the personal nature that embodied the campaign.
"It’s important to me that our leaders in Akron Borough have the best interests of the public in mind – of our town and our police department," she said.
McBeth said his campaigning Tuesday urged voters to look at his eight-year record in office. He ignored the negative letter, that no one has taken credit for writing and disseminating throughout the borough.
"I didn’t pay much attention to that letter," he said. "I knew nothing in it was true and that’s why nobody signed that letter."
The campaign’s tense atmosphere was evident Tuesday evening by an anxious, all-business approach, shared by both candidates who stood only a few feet apart outside Akron Fire Company.
But McBeth said the sometimes distressing campaign will not linger or hinder his ability to lead the borough.
"I’ll have no problem doing my job in the future," he said. "The same job that people congratulated me for doing in the past – I’m going to do in the future."
Despite the loss, Fitzpatrick said that the positive voter turnout – in an otherwise lackluster election – proved to be a "great day for Akron."
He did not comment on the recent aspects of the race or other odd twists that have plagued the campaign since the GOP primary in May – which included Fitzpatrick’s disputed petition to get on the GOP ballot by party officials.
"There is a lot that went on during this campaign and I need to take some time and digest that," he said.
When asked if he would consider another campaign in the future, Fitzpatrick said it’s a little too soon to answer that question.
Voters also elected five council members.
Those elected to the four-year seats are: Incumbent Republicans Perry K. Lorah, who received 538 votes; Justin M. Gehman, 490 votes; Thomas Murray, 487 votes and Republican Earl Shirk, 459 votes. Incumbent Kay McElhenny, who ran as an Independent, lost with 365.
Winning the two-year seat with 430 votes is Republican Daniel McCormac, who held off a challenge by Democrat Marlyn Jefferson, who garnered 290 votes.
More ELECTION, page A18