BY D’ARCY EGAN
By the time you read this, Port Clinton will have a new mayor.
This week’s The Beacon newspaper will have rolled off the printing presses before Port Clinton City Council made up its mind on Tuesday evening as to who would replace Hugh Wheeler Jr., who resigned March 29. Most folks in town knew council had to choose between Gabe Below or Mike Snider, both popular politicians.
Wheeler had walked away from the job because, he said in his resignation statement, he found himself “in a hostile environment at the city level.”
Law Director George Wilber advised council to allow anyone who wanted to become mayor to apply for the job by April 1, which seemed appropriate. Snider and Below were the only ones who did, although Gary Nipper of Port Clinton reportedly considered tossing his hat in the ring.
Below is already on council and a Democrat, just like the other six councilmen. Snider is a Republican, a past council member and was a declared candidate for Wheeler’s job early last December.
If Below doesn’t get the nod to be mayor for the next seven months, or so, he’ll still be a councilman. But he won’t have the opportunity to run against Snider next November. It’s too late for the Democrat to file for the job.
It seems unlikely, but unless there is an independent who files to run for mayor by May 6, or a write-in candidate, Snider is a lock in the November election to become mayor in January 2020.
Below had solid credentials for wanting to become mayor and get Port Clinton back on track.
“My day job was very applicable to what I felt would help Port Clinton,” said Below, by telephone from Germany, where he was on a business trip. Below couldn’t be back in Port Clinton for the Tuesday night vote. And because of the time difference, he wouldn’t know the results of the council vote until Wednesday morning.
“I have a master’s degree in public administration, and my experience in business and local government management is unique to a case like this. I wanted to fill in, fix as many things as possible and make short-term progress. I was not looking for a full-time job.
“I was willing to use my problem-solving skills and education to help the city move forward, and wanted to give council good choices in selecting a mayor.
“Mike Snider is a good man for the job. If I was selected, I would have looked forward to him coming back in few months to be mayor of Port Clinton.”
Snider felt the few bonus months he would have as mayor before taking office in January 2020 would “be good for the city as a whole, just to get things moving,” said Snider. “I feel I can redirect the train right away in another more positive direction.
“I feel honored that people are saying that I have it in me to be a good mayor. My biggest concern is meeting expectations. We didn’t get to where we are right now as a city overnight, and I don’t expect an easy road to success,” he said. “We need everyone — from the mayor to city council and the citizens of Port Clinton — to buy in to what will make this city a great place to live and work.”