Dan Wilczynski, who forfeited his seat as Walbridge Mayor in January, has pulled petitions to run for the mayor’s post again.
The Wood County Board of Elections said that Wilczynski, of 502 E. Perry St., and current Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko, of 212 Parkview Dr., as of Wednesday pulled petitions for mayor. The deadline to submit completed petitions to the board is August 7 at 4 p.m.
Wilczynski forfeited his seat after council last December obtained an outside legal opinion that declared he had violated the Ohio Revised Code by missing too many meetings of council.
Wilczynski told The Press earlier this year that village solicitor, Brian Ballenger, had told him he could probably fight it, but that the village would have to pay for both sides. He forfeited his seat, he said, because he didn’t want the village to pay for lawyers to fight it.
So why does he want to return, particularly since he and most of council fought for several months over his attendance record?
“That’s a good question,” Wilczynski told The Press on Tuesday. “The residents of Walbridge in the last election elected me to be the mayor. And just because a number of council people didn’t like me being in that position, they went out and found a way to get me out.”
Council sought an opinion after learning that the Ohio Revised Code states that the mayor must attend 60 percent of city council meetings during a two year term.
“Somehow council found a state law that I was told by our solicitor doesn’t apply to mayors. But council paid another attorney to say that it does apply to mayors. Rather than me fight it and have the village’s money wasted, since that’s not what I’m about, I said, `Fine, if that’s what they want.’ The strange thing about that whole thing is that council went back and reviewed meeting minutes upon meeting minutes until they had found a two year period where I was one meeting over the 60 percent. That happened to be in a separate term, but the law is not very clear on that,” he said.
Wilczynski said the public knew he often went out of town and missed meetings due to his personal business, and still re-elected him mayor in 2011. He said he was able to govern via e-mail, text and fax during those times when he was out of town.
“I think I attended enough meetings. Very little of the mayor’s job is attending council meetings. It’s just 2 percent of the mayor’s job. A lot can be handled at any time of the day. I was always available by e-mail, text, and fax. It wasn’t an issue with voters,” he said. “It happens to be an issue with council members because, quite frankly, they don’t like me.”
Kolanko told The Press it was clear Wilczynski had forfeited his seat for missing so many meetings.
“Obviously, he had on multiple occasions violated the Ohio Revised Code and still doesn’t think it’s a big deal,” Kolanko said of Wilczynski. “The ORC has even confirmed by legal counsel that he violated it. I would think his first and foremost comment should be to at least apologize to the residents of Walbridge for not admitting he was wrong. During the six months I have been mayor, I can tell you without a doubt how important it is for the mayor to be there in person. I stop by the office daily. It makes a big difference how the village is run. So being there is important. It is an issue with residents. In the six months I have been mayor, it has become very evident how important it is. Many residents have voiced their displeasure at Dan’s excessive absenteeism.”
Wilczynski downplayed any tension there was between him and council before he forfeited his seat.
“For the eight and a half years of my being in the mayor’s position, we worked as a team. Of course there were disagreements. But they were always professionally handled, never attacking. But in the last year and a half, it turned into a personal vendetta,” said Wilczynksi. “A number of people on council ran solely for the purpose of getting rid of me.”
If voters put Wilczynski back in the mayor’s seat, he hopes they will also replace council with new members.
“I’m hoping to avoid the personal vendetta. I’m looking to encourage other people to run so we can make a complete change of council,” said Wilczynski.
Kolanko countered that it was Wilczynski, not council, who caused the friction when he was mayor.
“Unfortunately, the drama will come back to Walbridge if Dan becomes mayor again. The village has been operating smoothly since I have been mayor,” said Kolanko. “The relationship between the mayor and council is the best I’ve seen it during my experience with the Village of Walbridge.”