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MANSFIELD — Jodie Perry helped lead the Mansfield Rising downtown investment and improvement plan four years ago.
She will lead a city-wide improvement effort for the next four years as the new mayor.
A Republican, Perry defeated Democrat Sherry Vaught on Tuesday, winning 65.74 percent of the vote from city voters, according to final, unofficial totals from the Richland County Board of Elections.
Perry received 7,283 votes compared to 3,795 for Vaught, according to the elections board in a race that saw about 40 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots.
She will replace current Mayor Tim Theaker, a Republican who will exit next month after 12 years in office.
The 46-year-old Perry, who works as the chief operating officer of the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, announced her candidacy more than a year ago and said she believed the difference in the campaign was making contact with many voters.
“I got out and talked to as many people as I could, really sharing a positive vision for the future of Mansfield.
“I think what I heard back from a lot of people, whether I was knocking on their door or talking to them in the coffee shop, is that people wanted to just feel confident about our future,” Perry said.
“People wanted someone that was going to be in there who would work really hard for them. I think (that) is what probably made the difference,” Perry said.
Perry, who has spent 20 years in economic development for various chambers of commerce, said she made her first run for political office because, “I believe we are at a pivotal moment for the future of our community.”
Perry said she will need to move quickly in terms of assembling her team, including the city’s first full-time safety-service director in three years.
“I want to have the administration fully staffed, including a safety-service director and public works director. Those are some key positions.
“It has got to be more than one person. I need help,” Perry said. “That’s why I have talked about Team Mansfield during the campaign. It’s going to take much more than the mayor to move the city forward.
“We have some great department heads. We need residents, business owners and other elected officials to step up. I want to cultivate that team spirit so that we can move forward faster,” she said.
Vaught, a teacher in the Mansfield City Schools for 25 years, was making her first run for elected office. She said during the campaign she chose to run because she believes in democracy.
“I feel it is very important to vote and that voters should have choices,” she said.