Damon Krane and incumbent Steve Patterson are running for mayor of Athens

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Athens voters may be experiencing some deja vu in this year’s race for mayor. Athens resident Damon Krane is again running to unseat Mayor Steve Patterson. 

The two ran against one another in 2019 when Patterson was up for a second term. In that race, Patterson won by 2,147 votes. 

The winner of this year’s election will be in office till 2027.

Mayor Steve Patterson and his opponent Damon Krane sitting at a table during the Athens County League of Women Voters mayoral candidate forum.
Damon Krane (left) and Mayor of Athens Steve Patterson (right) at the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum. [Jack Greene | WOUB]
Both Krane and Patterson say they want to better enforce the city’s housing code. Krane and Patterson agree the city’s code enforcement office is understaffed. Both propose raising reinspection fees for rental units to hire more inspectors.

“We know that we need to increase the number of rental inspection officers for the city of Athens in order to accomplish the inspections of the rental units,” Patterson said. “So that’s our plan moving forward, is to make sure that we have more code enforcement officers out there.”

Krane said he also wants to raise fines for landlords who fail inspections and tighten the code.

“We should be fining landlords on the spot to get these situations corrected much faster for the sake of tenant safety,” he said. “And that would generate more revenue. They would also fund a more vigilant code enforcement office.”

The two candidates presented different ideas for improving living conditions in the city.

Patterson said he wants to continue building more affordable housing and more housing for the city’s elderly population. 

“Athens is in a housing crisis. … We are losing faculty, we are losing staff, we’re losing people who want to live here because we don’t have enough housing stock,” he said at a League of Women Voters forum last month.

Patterson said a new tax credit he has put forward would encourage developers to build new single-family homes in the city.

Krane said there needs to be more accountability in city government and plans on shifting city resources.

“I think we certainly can afford to shift some of the money we are spending on policing and move it to other things improving the lives of community members,” he said.

Regarding towing enforcement in the city, Krane believes the city is not enforcing its rules.

Krane said at the League of Women Voters forum that under city code, the cap for nonconsensual towing is $50. He accuses the city’s administration of not wanting to enforce the rule. Instead of going to the City Council to raise fees, he said, “the administration has just tried to abolish the regulations they refuse to enforce.”

Patterson said the council has taken up the issue of higher towing fees multiple times but has opted to refrain from passing any measures regulating towing. He said his administration continues to pressure the council to pass regulations.

The candidates also plan on improving the business community in the city.

Krane said he supports small businesses. He believes keeping “capital small and close by” is a good idea. He said it gives people the opportunity to work for themselves.

Patterson said he continues working with new business owners, especially women and black business owners. He also says he is working to bring digital workspaces to the city.

On infrastructure, Krane said he is frustrated by how projects have played out. He said work on Stimson Avenue went on for longer than expected. He also said the new diagonal parking on College Street is “disastrous” but did give the city credit. 

“The city has made some strides in improving sidewalks and streets in the city,” he said.

Patterson said the city does have a significant focus on its infrastructure and hopes to continue that work.

“We’ve seen more infrastructure improvements since I’ve taken office,” he said. “Since 2016, we’ve been able to receive over $6 million, closer to $7 million in federal and state funding for infrastructure improvements.”

When it comes to how Patterson and Krane want to lead for all people, Patterson said he wants to meet people where they are, and Krane said he wants to include all voices in government.

“This is the responsibility of the mayor. … If you’re campaigning, you get out and you campaign. You meet people where they’re at,” Patterson said.

Krane said he agrees the mayor’s role is to bring people together but wants to bring Ohio University students into the conversation.

“Right now, the portion of our community that is actually included in public life is minuscule, so if we want to talk about bringing people together, we have got to get past that. That’s my priority,” he said.

Polls are open for early in-person voting at the Athens County Board of Elections office on Court Street till Nov. 5. Check the Board of Elections’ website for times.

Polls on Nov. 7 will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Go to the Board of Elections’ website to find your precinct.