By DENISE GRANT
The Hancock County Republican Central Committee voted by a 2-to-1 margin to appoint Christina Muryn as Findlay’s interim mayor on Monday.
With 25 of the 27 Central Committee members representing Findlay present, the vote was 17 to appoint Muryn, and eight to appoint 1st Ward Councilwoman Holly Frische.
Excited with Monday’s win, Muryn said she is looking forward to serving as interim mayor. She will serve out the remainder of former Mayor Lydia Mihalik’s term, which runs through this year.
“I know this is a position that comes with a lot of responsibility,” she said.
Muryn, 27, of 2033 Old Mill Road, is the director of business and physician development for the Pain Management Group, Findlay. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and marketing with a finance minor at the University of Findlay.
She will be sworn into office today.
On Monday, Muryn said her work and education background make her uniquely suited to work with the complexity of the city administration.
During an address to the GOP committee on Monday, Muryn said “times won’t always be good” and it’s important that the city stay well-positioned for future challenges.
She has twice run for elected office.
She challenged Jim Niemeyer, Findlay’s 6th Ward councilman, for the GOP nomination for the council seat in the May 2015 election, with Niemeyer winning.
Muryn ran for the Republican State Central Committee in May 2018, losing to Gina Campbell of Findlay.
However, Muryn’s big win on Monday was tainted by claims of foul play.
The committee went into closed executive session twice on Monday, and according to members in attendance, there was heated debate about a letter mailed to all committee members last week.
The letter, dated Feb. 21 with a Columbus postmark, is a letter from Frank Guglielmi, a former Findlay businessman and well known Hancock County Republican, endorsing Muryn. The letter is not signed.
Frische is a former longtime employee of the Guglielmi family.
Committee members questioned both candidates about the origin of the letter.
In an interview following Monday’s meeting, Muryn said Guglielmi contacted her last week about the endorsement, and she agreed, as long as the letter was not critical of Frische. Muryn said the Guglielmis are family friends.
Muryn’s three-minute address to the committee on Monday mirrored several of the comments made in the Guglielmi letter.
Muryn later said she thought the letter had little impact on the committee’s deliberations.
Frische, who was clearly unsettled by the questioning about the letter, said Guglielmi, who suffered a stroke about three years ago and is now in Florida, is incapable of penning such a letter.
In an interview following Monday’s meeting, Frische said she contacted Guglielmi over the weekend. Guglielmi said he was contacted for the endorsement. He said he did not write the letter, but he did read it, Frische said.
“He was confused and asked if I wanted to be mayor,” Frische said. “… Their campaign used a handicapped man. … It’s dirty politics,” she said.
Frische accused Tim Mayle, director of economic development at the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance, of orchestrating the endorsement and writing the letter.
The Courier attempted twice Monday night to contact Mayle about the letter.
The entire event set the stage for a contentious primary election, with Frische vowing to double down on her campaign efforts.
Frische and Muryn, and a third candidate, Hancock County Commissioner Brian Robertson, will vie for the Republican Party’s nomination in the May primary to seek a full, four-year term as mayor, which begins in 2020.
Frische, 41, of 1325 Shady Lane, was elected to represent the city’s 1st Ward on council in 2013. She has been re-elected twice.
Robertson, 51, of 218 Penbrooke Drive, first took office as commissioner in January 2013, and was re-elected in 2016. He is serving the third year of his second, four-year term.
He is the president of MBDS, a manufacturing company headquartered in Findlay.
Robertson did not seek the interim mayoral appointment.