Blakeman running for mahor of Columbiana

COLUMBIANA – The city’s mayor will be facing off with another contender in this year’s election, if he decides to run again.

Councilman Bryan Blakeman announced Wednesday he is running for mayor, a position held by David Spatholt the last seven years.

Blakeman filed with the board of elections earlier that day. He will appear on the May 7 primary ballot as a Republican.

Spatholt did not file for the position, but he has until May 6 to do so. Only those filing for partisan races are required to file early.

The filing deadline for independents is May 6, and Spatholt previously ran as an independent. He said Wednesday that he hasn’t decided whether he will run again.

He was serving on council when appointed to the mayor position to fill the term vacated by Lowell Schloneger when he retired. He ran unopposed in the fourth year of that term and has remained mayor since then.

He didn’t wish to comment on Blakeman’s filing.

Blakeman said he is running for mayor to “bring leadership to the mayor position within the city” and he doesn’t like the “fraternity mentality that is running council.”

He also said he feels he can leave the council position because he has fulfilled every campaign promise he made to voters.

Those promises included bringing accountability and fiscal responsibility to the city and making residents aware of what was going on, bringing council meetings to those who could not or would not attend, fighting for lower electric rates for residents and small businesses, and working with Congressman Bill Johnson to secure a multi-million dollar grant for the new water plant, he said.

Within the last year Blakeman worked – and gained backing from council to have meetings video-recorded and televised on local cable stations. They are also available on the city’s website.

Johnson announced a year ago he was backing the water plant project and assisted the city with the process to receive federal aid for the roughly $15 million funding from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Although it has brought about many contentious evenings, I never backed down and fought for what was best for the citizens of Columbiana. I also made my decisions using good common sense and putting myself in your shoes. My decisions were always based on how a particular vote would affect the residents I represent,” Blakeman said.

He also said that if elected mayor, he will run meetings differently.

The city functions under a charter and as such the mayor’s responsibilities include breaking tie votes among council, running mayor’s court and presiding over council meetings.

“The mayor, according to the charter, dictates the running of the meetings at his discretion. I have some ideas of some changes to work toward,” he said.

He didn’t wish to go into detail about those changes, but said he doesn’t want decisions to be “predetermined” as he believes they are currently.

“I’m not a career politician. I have a livelihood. I don’t mind using my skills and talents, or whatever you want to call it, to help the town that I live in, but when you feel like you do those things over and over and over again and you get nowhere … I personally feel like I’ve run the course with doing what I set out to do,” he said.

Blakeman was elected to council in 2009 and is serving the final year of his four-year term.