Mayoral race takes shape in Struthers

STRUTHERS — For the first time since being elected mayor in 1991, Daniel Mamula will have someone challenge him for the position.

Terry P. Stocker, Mamula’s opponent in the May Democratic primary, is a councilman-at-large and has served on the legislative body for more than 17 years. He has won nine of 11 elections dating back to 1975.

Mamula also has a wealth of Struthers political experience.

Besides his more than 15 years as mayor, Mamula spent eight years as a councilman-at-large and two years as council president. His only defeat was for mayor in 1987.

Mamula, 63, and Stocker, who turns 59 on Wednesday, are heading for a showdown in the Democratic May 8 primary. Struthers Democratic officials say they don’t believe anyone else will file to run in the party’s primary.

Republicans haven’t fielded candidates for elected positions in Struthers in years, and independents have had mixed results in general election races against Democratic nominees.

The filing deadline for the primary is Feb. 22 for the May 8 primary. Mamula is filing Monday and Stocker expects to file shortly. Independent candidates must file by May 7 for the Nov. 6 general election.

After winning the Democratic primary and the general election for the then-open mayoral seat in 1991, no one has challenged Mamula for the job.

“I don’t have a problem having an opponent,” he said. “I was fortunate all these years to not have one.”

Even though they’ve known each other for several years, Mamula describes his relationship with Stocker as “distant,” but doesn’t know why it is that way.

Stocker said Mamula has “done a good job” running the city and has “a lot of people’s respect,” but the people he’s spoken to want change and believe he is the best person for the job.

“It will be a monumental task with the years of experience he has,” Stocker said of his chance of beating Mamula. “Hopefully I’ll put together a good campaign. I can bring some different points of view and I have some plans for the city.”

Stocker declined to discuss his different points of view and plans until later in the campaign.

Stocker served as a councilman-at-large between 1976 and 1979, and lost the 1979 mayoral race running as an independent.

In 1991, he successfully ran for the 4th Ward council seat, and was re-elected to the two-year position five other times in a row. He lost the 2003 Democratic primary for the council seat by 19 votes to Paul J. Garchar Jr. Stocker came back strong in 2005 as the top vote-getter in the May primary and November general election for the three council-at-large seats up that year.

Stocker is a retired Dominion East Ohio technician and runs a small landscaping business. Mamula is a retired schoolteacher.

The mayoral job, which has a four-year term, pays $41,468 annually compared with $8,500 for council members.

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