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Akron Voters Face a Choice on Next Mayor

From left, Akron Mayor, Democrat Dan Horrigan and Republican Challenger Josh Sines
From left, Akron Mayor, Democrat Dan Horrigan and Republican Challenger Josh Sines

On Nov. 5, Akron residents will decide who will lead their city for the next four years.  First-term Mayor Dan Horrigan, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from local business owner, Republican Josh Sines.

Sines, a long-time Akron resident, owns Bob’s Hamburg, has worked as a bailiff in the Summit County courts and as a pro wrestling ring announcer. Horrigan is in the final year of his first term as mayor.  He previously served as Summit County Clerk of Courts and as an Akron City Councilman. We spent some time talking with each of them individually about why voters should consider them.

Why run?

Sines believes the city needs a better manager in its leader, someone who can look at each department and put in a new way of thinking, a person who can run the city like a business. Sines says there are things that need revamping like the city snow removal plan which includes plowing secondary streets and making sure all equipment is working. He acknowledges that the city has since addressed those issues.

For his part Horrigan says it’s important to look at both what he’s accomplished but the work he still wants to get done. He says the city has a lot of momentum and building on partnership.  He maintains that job of mayor involves both leading and listening and says “there’s still a lot of listening to do.” When it comes to measurements for success - growing employment, more vitality, a stronger downtown, a lower povertry rate – those can’t be accomplished in one term but you can lay the foundation.


Sines points to his business experience working in restaurants, also his time working in the Summit County courts as a bailiff. He also cites his time working for Fortune 500 companies. 

Horrigan says for any of the metrics for success, he points to key areas like  public safety and infrastructure. He says they have long-term effects on neighborhoods and customer service.

Getting things done

Sines is a Republican, running in a predominantly Democratic town. It’s been 40 years since Akron elected a Republican mayor. If he wins, he doesn’t forsee any issues working across the aisle with a Democratic city council.  Sines says city government would work by focusing on “common ground.”  He adds that for him, it would be about getting to the nuts and bolts of city government. He also points to the fact that every city council seat is currently held by a Democrat and that is not always a smooth working relationship.

Horrigan says regardless of party affiliation, once the election is over, everybody is in the same party. “We’re all residents, and we have a vested interest in the success of the city. He plays down the importance of electing a number of new members of council this year who may be more aligned with his office. “It’s about building concensus.”

Failures and lessons learned

Sines says he had a failing business, a deli, in 2003. He says you learn more about business, partnerships and working with people from experiences like that.

For Horrigan, it’s not necessarily a matter of failure but a recognition that at times he has had a lack of patience. He says it’s led him to push for results faster than should be warranted. 

Connections to Akron

Both candidates have life-long connections to Summit County. Sines grew up in Cuyahoga Falls but has spent his adult life in Akron. He does professional wrestling and boxing.  Horrigan is proud of recently becoming a grandfather for the first time. He grew up in Akron’s neighborhoods, the fifth generation to do so. He says the job of mayor has allowed him to discover parts of the city he didn’t know before simply because he didn’t have the opportunity to open up those doors before. He calls the job of mayor a humbling experience in a city that loves its hometown heroes.

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Andrew joined WKSU News in 2014. He oversees the daily operations of the WKSU news department and its reporters and hosts, coordinates daily coverage, and serves as editor. His commitment is to help foster reporting that marks the best of what public radio has to offer: a mix of first-rate journalism with great storytelling. His responsibilities also include long-term strategic planning for news coverage in Northeast Ohio that serves WKSU’s audience via on-air, online, by social media and through emerging technologies. You can also hear Andrew on-air daily as the local host for Here and Now, Fresh Air, and The World.