For the third time, William B. Judge faced a challenger in the Democratic primary for Barberton mayor. And for the third time, Judge has prevailed. This time, though, the margin of victory was narrower than it has been in the past.
In the September 2015 primary Judge captured 77% of the vote, easily defeating John Lysenko. In the September 2011 mayoral primary, Judge beat Bob Genet with 54% support.
This time, according to results from the Summit County Board of Elections, Judge won by just 79 votes, or 49%, over city councilwoman Carla Hart Debevec, who garnered 46% support and political newcomer Steve Brookens who received 4% of the 2,536 votes cast. Both Judge and Debevec are the children of former Barberton mayors. William J. Judge served in the post from 1980-87. Randy Hart served from 1993-2008, the longest serving mayor of the magic city.
The race was contentious, with concerns about job losses and tax revenue decline following the departure of Babcock & Wilcox, a major employer in the city for 113 years. It chose to relocate its headquarters to Akron's East End.
Earlier this year, Judge forecast a $4 million dollar budget shortfall. Debevec helped negotatiate wage concessions that preserved some city jobs.
The city recently welcomed a new employer in Akron Rubber Development Laboratory, Inc. In her state of the county address, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro lauded Judge's work to secure the project. In a statement about the deal, Shapiro wrote: "The relocation of ARDL to downtown Barberton involved complex, innovative financing that included several regional and local organizations. Through years of relationship development, Mayor Judge and I created a collaborative environment that was able to not only help an established business thrive and grow, but to also keep them in the region. Mayor Judge has proven to be forward-thinking and steadfast in his economic development efforts.”
Judge faces no challenger in the November general election.