Christina Muryn has been on a year-long mission to become Findlay’s mayor. She finally accomplished it Tuesday when she completed the trifecta, and won the mayor’s race by collecting about 1,300 more votes than Chad Benschoter. That means there’s no longer a need to precede mayor with “appointed” or “acting.”
Muryn gained a major advantage in February when she received the appointment of the county’s Republican Party, then, in round two, earned the GOP nomination by beating both City Councilwoman Holly Frische and County Commissioner Brian Robertson in May’s primary election.
No question, Muryn, who at 27 is one of the youngest, if not the youngest mayor in Ohio, benefited from having a nine-month head start. She also helped her cause when she ended the flawed practice of deferring taxes for some businesses, and admitted that the administration had to do a better job communicating. She showed an ability to work with other administrators, including the city auditor. Former Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Auditor Jim Staschiak had what can be described as a contentious relationship the past seven years.
There were a few rocky moments, too. She has faced criticism over the proposed Blanchard Street project, which started before she arrived in office, and drew the ire of some when she said during a candidate forum that decisions sometimes have to be made even when some people may not agree.
Muryn’s rapid rise to the city’s top elected post may have come about in part from party connections, but her ambition and ideas may have sealed the deal. One, her “walk and talk” with the mayor events have made her accessible and encouraged the community to be more active.
Findlay’s second female mayor now has four years to prove she can manage a city with 350-plus employees and a $20 million-plus annual budget, all the while continuing the momentum that has made Findlay one of the best small cities in the nation. That’s no small challenge, but one that clearly Muryn has earned the opportunity to take on. We wish her success.
Democrats on the rise?
While there are no consolation prizes given in elections, the amount of support received by the two Democrats in two Findlay races is impressive considering Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 4-to-1 and have long ruled the roost.
For the record, there are just 2,557 registered Democrats within the city limits.
In the mayor’s race, Benschoter received 2,054 votes in losing by just 1,288 votes to Muryn, while in a four-person race for three at-large council spots, Democrat Abby Hefflinger got 2,567 votes and was just 679 votes shy of defeating one of the three Republican incumbents.
Interestingly, neither Benschoter nor Hefflinger had ever run for public office and spent relatively little on their campaigns. Their opponents had the benefit of GOP support and incumbency.
Regardless of where their votes came from — Democrats, independents or crossover Republicans — it would appear both Benschoter, 29, and Hefflinger, 35, as well as the Democratic Party, may have something to build on.
About three-fourths of Hancock County’s registered voters apparently had more important things to do on Election Day than vote.
Granted, there were relatively few races and no countywide issues to entice people to the polls. But the county’s dismal turnout will likely go down in the books as one of the lowest ever for a general election. Only 11,277 ballots were cast among the total 49,384 registered voters. That’s barely 23 percent.
One telling example of voter apathy came in the mayor’s race in Findlay, where the population is about 41,000 and there are about 25,000 registered voters, including 9,455 Republicans. Yet, just 5,300 people voted. That’s troubling. It’s one thing to register. It’s another to finish the job.