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William Sherer II wins Canton Democratic mayoral primary

William Sherer II at a primary night watch party
Kelly Krabill
Ideastream Public Media
William Sherer II is the winner of the 2023 Canton Democratic mayoral primary, according to unofficial results.

Canton Councilmember William Sherer II won the Democratic nomination in the 2023 Canton mayoral race primary on Tuesday.

Sherer got 34% of the vote, narrowly beating former Ohio state representative and former Canton Councilmember Thomas West by 66 votes according to unofficial results. Councilmember Bill Smuckler came in third with 23% of the vote.

Sherer will face off against Republican Roy Scott DePew in the general election this November. Depew ran uncontested in the Republican primary.

At his watch party Tuesday night, Sherer restated that safety would be his top priority if elected in the general election in November.

"It's got to start with safety," he said. "The strength of our city is our neighborhoods. While we need economic development, everything is interconnected."

Five candidates entered the race for the Democratic nomination after Mayor Tom Bernabei decided not to seek a third term. Bernabei was first elected to the office in 2015.

The race also included two political newcomers: Willis Gordon and Kimberly Bell. Gordon is the veterans affairs chairman of the Ohio conference of the NAACP, and Bell is a paralegal who had been attending city council meetings when she decided to run for mayor.

The top issues facing Canton

Prior to the primary election, each candidate sat down for interviews with WHBC to talk about why they should be the next mayor of Canton. When asked what they would do their first day in office, candidates had a variety of responses.

Gordon, Sherer and West said they would work on providing individuals with resources to be successful. West, who has opened several businesses in the Canton area, said he believes the people of Canton will revitalize the city if given the chance.

“You can do anything you want here in Canton,” West said, “if you are able to get the tools and support you need to move it forward.”

Sherer, Smuckler and West stressed public safety. Sherer said he would expand resources for local police and community outreach while Smuckler said he would focus on community policing and new fiber-optic technology.

“Police are always there after the crime, this will help us get there before the crime or during the crime,” Smuckler said.

Gordon and Sherer also brought up investing in infrastructure.

“Not just the neighborhoods, but building that all electric train from Canton, Akron and Cleveland through those federal dollars.” Gordon said. “Those are things that create jobs. They build up our infrastructure. They make us safer, cleaner, greener.”

Corrected: May 4, 2023 at 9:18 AM EDT
This story previously stated that the margin separating the two top vote getters was small enough to trigger an automatic recount. A subsequent review found the .5% threshold was not met.
Jenna Bal is a news intern at Ideastream Public Media.
Kelly Krabill is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media. Her work includes photography and videography. Her radio and web reporting covers a wide range of topics across Northeast Ohio.
Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.