Steve Patterson won a second term as the mayor of Athens Tuesday after defeating independent challenger Damon Krane.
Patterson outlasted Krane’s challenge from the left in a decisive victory after securing 75.62% or 2,075 votes while Krane got 20.81% or 571 votes. This victory gives the incumbent Democrat an additional four years as mayor.
Patterson’s history in Athens not only includes four years as mayor, but also multiple years on city council and time as a psychology professor at Ohio University.
Patterson tackled multiple issues in his first term, including installing the new community swimming pool, renovating the water treatment plant and working to make the city more reliant on green energy.
“I was kinda overwhelmed to some degree because of the 75%, which was just fantastic,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he thinks his work in his first four years as mayor and his efforts to engage the citizens of Athens lets residents recognize him as an effective and approachable mayor.
Patterson is also a veteran of the United States Air Force, from which he retired as a major in 2003. In his new term, he wants to continue the work that the city government is currently working on diversifying the local economy and developing affordable housing.
The mayor will be aided in his efforts by a City Council that is now made up of all Democrats with the reelection of incumbents Peter Kotses and Sarah Grace and the election of new members Beth Clodfelter and Arian Smedley.
Patterson said he was surprised that independent incumbent Patrick McGee didn’t make it back on City Council but that it shows that candidates like Clodfelter put a lot of work into their campaign.
Krane, who is a local business owner and political activist, chose to run for mayor after being involved as an activist in the city and region for years.
Even though he lost the election, Krane said he wants to continue his activism and push the city government to address the issues that were central to his campaign — rental housing and poverty.
“(The results) are disappointing but not entirely surprising,” Krane said. “We were really trying to do something very new here for an Athens election and we’re really starting from scratch.”
Krane said his hope is that his efforts “planted seeds” for elections in the next couple years to grow his efforts and make an impact in the future.
His campaign focused on a key policy proposal he co-authored with Athens City Council candidate Ellie Hamrick called “Operation Slumlord Smackdown.”
This plan sought to act upon the issues of stricter enforcement of city code, providing rent control and increasing code office staffing the centerpiece to their campaigns to combat what they view as dishonest practices of Athens landlords.
During the debates held prior to the election, Patterson often tried to address environmental, economic and infrastructure topics. Krane also addressed the same issues but always found a way to connect them back to how the majority of Athens residents who are renters are not being heard and that his plan to fight landlords and strengthen city code should be a priority for the city.
During the campaign, Patterson brought in about $7,963 in campaign donations but only spent about $4,228 according to the Pre-General Report from the Athens County Board of Elections. His donations came from within Athens County and included local landlords and fellow Democratic politicians.
Krane, on the other hand, ran a mostly self-funded campaign which brought in about $7,867, $6,345 of which came from his own wallet. His other donations came from activists both within Athens and from around the country. Krane spent about $6,622 of that money.
“Patterson was so clearly the candidate of landlords and in a city where 80% of the population are renters, my assumption is a very small portion of the renters turned out to vote,” Krane said.
Krane said he would consider running for mayor or city council in the future but will focus on grassroots organizing in the near future.