Lesch confident Democrats will fill 4th-ward council position

Cary Ashby • Jul 27, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Huron County Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Lesch is confident the party will fill the vacancy for the fourth-ward representative on Norwalk city council.

Lesch said there are four people who have “serious interest” in the position and some of those are taking time to consider due to the time commitment. 

“I’m confident of the candiates,” she added. “We are on track. … I think we’ll have a name by the end of the month.”

The vacancy was created by the resignation of Chris Castle due to his family moving out of the fourth ward. He announced his decision at the July 3 council meeting and his resignation took effect the next day. Castle, who was in the third year of his four-year term, has said “being elected by a majority of my peers was one of the greatest honors of my life.”

“If we could have found another middle-class rental property in ward four, we certainly would have done that, but there was nothing on the market. Primarily, as anybody (who) rents in this town knows, there are primarily apartments and it’s hard to find a full house,” he told the Reflector prior to his resignation.

Until the fourth-ward vacancy is filled, Deb Lucal is the only Democrat on council. She represents the first ward. At-large Councilman Jordy Horowitz is an Independent and the rest of the council members are Republicans.

Lucal, upon being told of Lesch’s confidence in filling the vacancy, said “that’s great.” Lucal also said she hadn’t had anybody approach her who was interesting in serving on council, but noted “I’m not the person they’d go to.”

Earlier, Lucal said finding a qualified Democrat could be a challenge. On Thursday, she said “maybe people are waiting for the last minute” to inform Lesch of their interest and added that since council members aren’t state representatives, it’s ultimately not as important if they are a Democrat or Republican.

If the Democrats don’t make an appointment by Aug. 3, which is 30 days after July 4 ( the date Castle’s resignation that took effect), Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan can make an appointment. He, coincidentally, is the leader of the Huron County Republicans.

Members of the Huron County Democratic Party central committee who represent the precinct will vote on who the candidate will be.

Lesch said she didn’t think it would be a difficult process to find someone. 

“I had people from the (Democratic) party call me,” she added, noting there were people who expressed interest who didn’t qualify.

Samantha Wilhlem, a Republican who represents the third ward, has said she hopes the Democrats find someone who is passionate and “has the excitement and vision that Chris Castle brought and is tenacious like Bob Carlton.”

When Carleton died in November 2014, the Republican party appointed Erin Smetzer. Wilhlem also was appointed to council to complete Chuck Furey’s term in 2012. Wilhlem was later elected in 2013. 

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