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Shammas Malik will be Akron's next mayor

Akron Mayor-elect Shammas Malik stands behind a podium in front of his team.
Abigail Bottar
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Mayor-elect Shammas Malik declared victory on Nov. 7, 2023.

Shammas Malik will be the next mayor of Akron.

Malik declared victory Tuesday night, and unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections website showed him with an overwhelming lead over a write-in candidate. He was expected to win the general election after his victory in the Democratic primary in May. No Republican or Independent challenger appeared on the ballot. Malik will take office on Jan. 1, succeeding Mayor Dan Horrigan who's been in office since 2015.

Malik addressed supporters at the Akron Civic Theatre where hundreds of people gathered to watch his win become official.

"It's an incredible honor. It's an incredible privilege," he said to the crowd. "I'm a product of this community, and I'm going to do my best every single day to try and serve this community."

Malik is a current city councilmember and former assistant law director for Akron.

His campaign focused on public safety, economic development, housing and education.

People congregate at the Akron Civic Theatre.
Abigail Bottar
Ideastream Public Media
Supporters of Mayor-elect Shammas Malik congregate at the Akron Civic Theatre on Nov. 7, 2023.

"If we are going to give people hope, if we are going to give our children, our youth hope for a city where they can have a happy, fulfilling and thriving life, we have to be a safer city," Malik said. "We have to be a city with better housing, better education and more jobs and better paying jobs."

Until inauguration day, Malik will be working on staffing the mayor's office and putting together a 100 day plan, he said. He wants to hit the ground running on issues including safety, education and the environment.

"We can't deny how the environment impacts how kids learn, [their] safety and health," he said. "It's all linked."

Malik also wants to make the city's role in education more clear, he said.

"The city has a very clear role when it comes to safety. We have a police department. We have a fire department," Malik said. "We have a less clear role when it comes to education. We don't have an education department. We're going to have an education and health strategist for the city."

The new administration will also be laying out measurable goals to hold themselves accountable, Malik said.

Malik, an Akron native who is Pakistani and white, will be the first person of color to serve as mayor.

"There are times when I doubt myself. There are times when I doubt the odds. There are times when I doubt the fabric of democracy. There is not a single time when I doubt the people of the city of Akron," he said. "We have everything we need to be a stronger, safer and more equitable community. We have everything we need in this room and in every room in this community."

Malik will also be tasked with selecting a new police chief after Chief Steve Mylett announced his retirement earlier this year. The community input process will start quickly, he said, calling the process "open and transparent." Malik will also play a large role in the community's continued healing, after eight Akron police officers shot and killed Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black man, last year.

Malik rose to the top of a field of seven candidates running in the Democratic primary. His primary win with 43% of the vote topped frontrunner's Deputy Mayor Marco Sommerville and Akron City Councilmember Tara Mosley. Sommerville was endorsed by Mayor Dan Horrigan and former Mayor Don Plusquellic. The other candidates who threw their hats in the ring included Summit County Councilmember Jeff Wilhite, Mark Greer, Josh Schaffer and Keith Mills.

Akron's next city council

As mayor, Malik will be tasked with forging a working relationship with city council, which will have some new faces. Eric Garrett could join incumbents Linda Omobien and Jeff Fusco in the at-large seats. Early unofficial results from teh Summit County Board of Elections show them leading. Garret would replace incumbent Councilmember Ginger Baylor who lost in the Democratic primary in May. Jan Davis, who defeated Councilmember Russ Neal in the Democratic primary, ran unopposed in Ward 4, which includes the West Akron and Wallhaven neighborhoods.

Early results show Tina Boyes leading in Ward 9, encompassing the Kenmore neighborhood, where incumbent Councilmember Mike Freeman did not seek reelection. Newcomers Johnnie Hannah, who won the Ward 5 seat vacated by Tara Mosley in her run for mayor, and James Hardy, who won Malik's Ward 8 seat, ran unopposed. Ward 5 includes parts of East Akron, University Park, Middlebury, North Hill and Cascade Valley, and Ward 8 spans Northwest Akron and includes portions of the Merriman Valley and Wallhaven.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.