Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland is set to run unopposed in the November election after no one filed to run against him before the filing deadline. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Springfield mayor running unopposed to serve 5th term in office

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland will serve another four-year term provided no one decides to run against him as a write-in candidate in the November election.

“Hey, it could happen,” Copeland said. “It would be very hard, though.”

The deadline to file to run for mayor was Feb. 6, and Copeland had no one sign up to challenge him for the position as he seeks a fifth term.

Copeland said that one of the main reasons he made the decision to run for mayor again was because of all the things he feels are currently a work-in-progress in Springfield.

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“We have some really great things going and I want to be a part of bringing those things into existence,” Copeland said.

Some of the upcoming projects that Copeland referenced are new housing projects, job growth and progress on the downtown entertainment district and DORA (Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area).

Copeland said in his upcoming term he is planning on continuing to focus on the same topics as he has in the past: public safety, jobs, streets and other basic city services.

“These have always been my key elements,” Copeland said. “These are things I think, no I know, that residents care about.”

According to a community engagement survey conducted by the city of Springfield in 2016, those four topics ranked the highest in terms of concerns for residents.

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Copeland is a retired religion professor at Wittenberg University and was first elected to the Springfield City Commission in 1988. From there, he was appointed into a variety of city positions until he was selected to serve as mayor by the commission. He was mayor from 1990-94 and then again from 1998-2003. In 2003, once the city moved to direct election of the mayor position, Copeland was elected in 2003 and has served since.

In 2015, Copeland was elected to his fourth consecutive term as mayor with about 63 percent of the vote, with all of the city precincts counted by the Clark County Board of Elections. His challenger, Fred Stegner, received 37 percent of the vote.

As Mayor of Springfield, Copeland leads a city with 60,000 residents with an almost $38 million annual budget and about 570 employees.

Despite the population of Springfield, Robert Baker, a state and local political science professor at Wittenberg University, said that it is not uncommon for local politicians like Copeland to run unopposed.

“There are a couple of things to think about here,” Baker said “The first being that he has served for a very long time and does have a strong political base. The second being that it doesn’t necessarily depend on the size of the city, a lot of cities have a hard time having competitive races.”

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Baker said that it’s also important to remember that in the city of Springfield, the city manager makes most of the decisions regarding city government, which could mean that the nature of the position plays a factor.

Over 20 applicants applied for the position of city manager back in October, after Jim Bodenmiller, who had served as Springfield’s city manager for a decade, announced he would step down in January.

The position ultimately went to Bryan Heck, who was at the time the deputy city manager.

Copeland said one of the main reasons he chose to run for mayor again was to help other city officials transition into new positions, one of those being the city manager.

“A piece of my own thinking about ‘why run again,’ is to sort of help with the transition of this new commission and this new city manager as they get their feet on the ground. I’m excited about the ideas they have and some of the things we are planning to do,” he said.

However, moving into his next term, Copeland said he is just excited to continue being involved in the positive changes occurring in the city.

“Honestly, being a part of what I see as some new positive stuff going on in Springfield led me to one more term, at least,” Copeland said.

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