Incumbent, challenger file to run in Cuyahoga Falls mayor's race

Democrat Don Walters files to run for third term; Republican Meri Stemple submits petitions for race

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Elections graphic

CUYAHOGA FALLS — The 2021 mayor's race is underway in the city.

Mayor Don Walters, a Democrat, has filed petitions with the Summit County Board of Elections to run for a third term in office. Meri Stemple, a Republican, also submitted petitions to vie for the mayoral seat.

Wednesday was the deadline for partisan candidates for Cuyahoga Falls mayor and City Council to turn in their petitions for the May 4 primary election.

Walters was first elected as city leader in 2013 when he defeated longtime Republican incumbent Don Robart. Walters then won re-election in 2017 in a race against Republican Susan Hale.

Stemple ran for, and lost the Ward 7 City Council race to incumbent Jerry James in 2019.

Walters said he is running for a third term to continue building on the initiatives that he started in 2014.

"We now proudly boast a thriving small business community who are putting their hearts and souls into their businesses, as well as citizens who dedicate their valuable time and resources to cultivate better relationships and more open lines of communication to make our neighborhoods stronger," stated Walters. "I have never been more proud to be the leader of this city and I am honored to build on this momentum into my next term as your mayor."

A life-long city resident a certified nurse case manager for Area Agency on Aging, Stemple said she felt city government needed to be reformed in three areas.

"We need to require more transparency, have more fiscal responsibility, and elect a mayor who makes decisions beneficial to the people rather than his own political interests," said Stemple, who said she is also a guardian partner for Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

When she spoke with voters during her campaign for the Ward 7 council seat in 2019, Stemple said, “I realized our residents are intentionally kept in the dark by the administration on how decisions are made. We must change that policy. We need to listen and we need to respond,"

Here is a look at the hopefuls who filed to run for Cuyahoga Falls City Council races (incumbents are denoted with an asterisk):

• At-Large (Two seats available): Brian Ashton (D); Russ Balthis (D)*; Evan Perrow (R); Jason Rickenbacher (R).

• Ward 1: Dave Davis (R); Rachel Loza (D)*

• Ward 2: Eric Eisentraut (R); Susan Anne Spinner (D)*

• Ward 3: Amy Archer Paglia (R); Meika Marie Penta (D)*

• Ward 4: Bradford Chapman (R); Mary F. Nichols-Rhodes (D)*

• Ward 5: Mike Brillhart (D)*; Lori A. Samerdak (R)

• Ward 6: Gary DeRemer (D); Adam Miller (R)*

• Ward 7: Jerry James (D)*; John Underwood (R)

• Ward 8: Warren Capps (R); Frank Stams (D)*

The May 4 primary election is for each political party to nominate a candidate (or in the at-large race, two candidates) to run for each race. According to the list of people who filed petitions, there will not be any contested primaries in the city of Cuyahoga Falls on May 4. If the hopefuls have their petitions certified, the candidates will advance to the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

The mayoral and at-large council seats carry four-year terms, while all eight ward posts have two-year terms.

The petitions are scheduled to be certified by the board of elections Feb. 16.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.