city Election 2021

Jevin Zimmerman fills out his ballot at Brightside Opportunities Center Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Zimmerman was the only voter in the poling place at the time.

Democrats in Lancaster city took the night in city council and mayoral contests, easily sweeping away third party and Republican challengers and maintaining their full lock on city government.

With all precincts reporting and all mail-in ballots counted, all three city council members seeking reelection this year won by large margins, as did newcomer, Lochard Calixte, who was running to replace Pete Soto, who did not seek reelection.

“The past four years have taught us that the people of the city of Lancaster, they want safe, quality affordable housing, they need access to the wealth that has been developed and the booming economy in downtown Lancaster that for a long time they have been shut out of,” council president Ismail Smith-Wade-El said, adding that residents also expect these things to be accomplished in a fiscally responsible way. “That’s not going to be an easy task but I think it is one this team is capable of rising to.”

Smith-Wade-El and Calixte were joined on the winning ticket by incumbents Janet Diaz and Faith Craig. The Democrats defeated Republicans Elizabeth E. Elias, Ethan Brown and Dena M. Maounis, and third-party candidate Joey Dastra.

Mayor Danene Sorace also retained residents’ confidence, winning a second term by beating Independent candidate Willie Shell 73% to 27%.

Democrats were well positioned heading into the night. In the city council race, they faced three Republican challengers and a third-party candidate. But registered Democrats outnumber all other voters in the city roughly three to two, and the party has held a firm grip on the city’s mayoral and council posts since the early 2000s.

The Democrats cited affordable housing and policing as top issues during their campaigns. Smith-Wade-El said he feels housing is the top issue for the city because “housing is where it all starts.”

“There are a few things that are different in 2021 than 2017,” Sorace said in her victory speech, referring to her first election. “And I got a long list of lessons learned, from some really unique challenges as well as disappointments over the last four years.”

In a call after her speech, Sorace said that what she had learned was that the best laid plans can go out the door, and that leading a city is a challenge and process of moving through uncharted waters

She said she hopes those experiences will help inform her in the next term as she continues to work on issues like community engagement, lead abatement, affordable housing, broadband and lobbying the state for revenue reform to fix the city’s budget gap.

“So there is a long list of to 'dos' and four years to get it done,” she said.

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