Ironton voters say ‘we want a change’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

All along John Elam said that Ironton needed a change at mayor. The voters agreed - by a landslide.

Elam, the 45-year-old grant manager for the Southern Ohio Medical Center and Ironton City Council member since 2001, defeated incumbent mayor Bob Cleary Tuesday by receiving 61.9 percent of the votes.

Elam totaled 2,286 votes compared to 1,403 for Cleary.

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With his family surrounding him at the Lawrence County Courthouse, Elam emphasized that the victory was not about him, but pointed to the fact that the people of Ironton were ready to step forward and make a change.

"I am very pleased the citizens chose me to represent

them. I won't let them down," he said. "People can look forward to me working diligently for the positive promotion of Ironton and can look forward to a full-time mayor."

Cleary, 53, a city council member from 1989-1997 and mayor since 1997, did not return several messages.

Elam emphasized that his success would not be possible without all the tireless help of his supporters, campaign treasurer Dr. Charles Wood and last, but certainly not least, his wife Becky and two children.

"My family has been the primary focus of my campaign," he said. "They have stood beside me. I won't let them down. I know when I represent my children I also represent everyone in Ironton who has children and grandchildren."

It was truly a family affair as Elam's two children Molly, 10, and Aaron, 8, celebrated with their parents.

"It feels good," Molly said. "I had a good feeling inside that he was going to win."

Overall, Elam said he is looking forward to increasing the communication between council and the mayor position.

"Communication is a huge priority with me. I would like to see all of us pointed in the right direction," he said. "I look forward a great amount of information sharing and working together with council."

Elam will take office Dec. 1 and will have to leave his position at SOMC. Council will then have 30 days to approve with a majority vote a replacement to serve out the remainder of Elam's term on council. If council does not appoint someone, the mayor can name a replacement.