By Kevin Kelley
Nate Cross and Nick C. Nunnari emerged from a five-person primary race May 7 and will face off in November to determine who succeeds outgoing Ward 2 Councilman Jim Connole.
The first-place victory by Cross was expected. But Nunnari’s second-place finish over former Bay Village finance Director Steve Presley was a mild surprise to some observers.
Both Cross and Nunnari told West Life that the race was not over.
“I look forward to the fall election and will continue to reach out to listen to residents of Ward 2 so that I can hopefully serve as their next councilman based on my experience, qualifications and record of responsiveness and involvement in the community,” Cross said.
“I am not surprised by (Nunnari’s) second-place finish, as I know how hard he and the other candidates worked,” said Cross, himself known as a hard-working campaigner. “I have also known Nick for some time, and look forward to running against him, as we both have a good working relationship with one another.”
Nunnari told West Life he likes being the underdog. He credits his second-place finish to diligent campaigning.
“Hard work and going door to door and talking with the people worked in my favor,” he said.
Nevertheless, Nunnari said some things worked against him. His only campaign mailing was misdirected by the post office and ended up being delivered May 7 – Election Day.
Nunnari, the assistant service director at John Lance Ford, said he’s going to take advantage of lessons learned in his first run for office; for example, he said he’ll focus more on early voters who cast ballots by mail in the fall race. In the primary vote, Cross led among early/absentee voters with 113 votes. Presley was second with 72, followed by Nick Nunnari with 56.
Nunnari also hopes to obtain the endorsements of the three candidates who did not advance to the general election. Two, Marie Novak and Brian Thompson, have already given Nunnari their backing.
Presley said he plans to endorse a candidate, but declined for now to say which one.
“I want to meet with both of them to verify if my views are correct on who I believe will best represent the citizens of Ward 2,” Presley said.
Connole, who did not endorse anyone in the primary race, told West Life that it’s too early to give an endorsement.
The primary race was the first run at elected office for all the candidates except Cross. Presley, now the city administrator and finance director for Pepper Pike, was unable to convert his chairmanship of the Westlake Civil Service Commission into enough votes to advance to the general election.
Presley said that, in hindsight, he should have entered the race earlier. Cross, who was the first of the five to file his candidacy petitions with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, obtained key endorsements, such as that of Mayor Dennis Clough, early on.
“I believe that the residents appreciate my experience in city government,” Presley said. “However, due to (my) entering the race late, many residents had already decided on who they were going to support.”
LIBRARY LEVY PASSES: Also on the May 7 ballot, a five-year renewal of a 2.8-mill operating levy for Westlake Porter Public Library passed handily, 4,301 (70.0 percent) to 1,840 (30.0 percent). Money from the levy provides about three-fourths of the library’s annual $4.7 million budget. The current levy expires at the end of this year. Under the levy, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 will pay $85.75 annually.