CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio--After 28 years in office, Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart says he never even thought about an exit strategy.
"I have always been focused on the city and moving the city ahead. I'm fully absorbed in it and so I never had thoughts or time to think about an exit strategy," said Robart on Wednesday.
But nearly three decades after taking office he needs one.
Robart, 68, lost by a very narrow margin to City Council President Don Walters in Tuesday's election.
Reflecting back on his term as the city's longest-serving mayor, Robart says he is proud of what he has accomplished.
"I know in my heart of hearts that I'm leaving the community much better than the one that I found 28 years ago and I think that's the thing that makes me feel best about leaving because I know I have accomplished a lot.
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Robart says among his first big projects was the Sheraton Inn along the river front which has blossomed during his tenure.
"We've always have things for our residents to occupy their time and I would say that a lot of cities have followed us. I mean we were fifteen years ahead of Akron when they came up with their lock 3 so we have seen cities copy things that we do and they say that's the sincerest form of flattery-- is to duplicate what you are doing," said Robart.
Some feel Robart's support of issue 2 rallied democrats and unions to defeat him.
"They didn't like my position on issue 2, which was senate bill 5. I was targeted as was the mayor of Toledo and I think he lost, as well. So I think it was largely a union function and they are probably dancing in the streets today," said Robart.
Walters, who has served on city council for 12 years, downplays that.
"I think that's something in the past and there may be more things coming too that are anti-labor out of Columbus but for now I don't think that played into this election," said Walters.
Walters says he will ride out the remainder of the year at his trucking company job before leaving to become a full-time mayor.
He says he will work on bridging a closer relationship between neighborhoods and city hall.
Robert says he isn't sure what his first day will be like not having to report to city hall after serving for so long, but he expects to spend more time with his family including two new grandchildren.
"If anyone had told me back in high school or college that someday I'd be the longest-serving mayor of this city, I probably would have scoffed, but it's been a wonderful run," said Robart.