Walbridge mayor breaks deadlock on council leader

WALBRIDGE – Council has a new president, but not without a little conflict.
At Wednesday’s meeting, both Ken Gilsdorf and Ron Liwo were nominated, with the rest of council splitting
two-two on the vote.
Sue Hart-Douglas and Fred Sloyer supported Liwo, and Lauren Laroe and Larry Boday voted for Gilsdorf.
Mayor Ed Kolanko said he tried to get council to settle the issue without a tie-breaking vote from him.
Council voted two more times, with the same result.
Kolanko said he then offered to leave the room so council could have a discussion, then re-vote. Or, the
mayor said, he could cast the tie-breaker.
Council asked him to vote, Kolanko said, and he decided on Gilsdorf.
"I believe that from looking at the more recent election, Ken Gilsdorf received the majority of the
votes," the mayor said. "I tried to put myself in the mind of the voter."
Kolanko said either man would do a decent job as president.
Gilsdorf said that the president position has been a goal since he moved back to the village six years
ago, continued volunteering and joined council.
"Being the council president was just another step for me," he said. "I just feel that I
was meant to have this job."
As president, he wants to help council work for the citizens.
"Put your personal agendas aside, we’re here for the residents of Walbridge," Gilsdorf said.
"Whatever’s good for Walbridge, that’s what I want to do."
Liwo said there are no hard feelings, and this is the way government works.
"It was a fair vote and we both had a desire to do the position," he said.
Liwo served on council from 2003-09, and was president some of those years, and was village treasurer
from 2000-03. He was appointed to council again in 2013 and won a seat in November.
"I honestly felt, I had served in that position before. I had the most experience and most to
offer," he said.
Jan Sawaya was council president last year, but lost her re-election bid in November.
Also at the meeting, resident Cecil Adkins reiterated that he believes Police Chief Kenneth Frost should
not also be the village administrator. The former councilman has approached council about this a couple
of times over the last year.
An opinion from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which Kolanko sought last year, allows Frost to serve
in both capacities.
In an opinion dated Oct. 22, Attorney General Mike Dewine said a person may serve simultaneously as
administrator and chief of police for Walbridge. In April, council asked the attorney general for an
opinion after some residents, including Adkins, complained about Frost doing both jobs. Frost was hired
as police chief in February 2011, and was made permanent village administrator in March after serving in
the position on a part-time basis since May 2012.
"The ruling in October, that’s what we’re going with," Kolanko said.
Gilsdorf said Frost is doing an outstanding job in both positions.
"I see no conflict in what he does," Gilsdorf said.
Also Wednesday, Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman swore in Kolanko and council members who won seats
in November. Boday is the new member.