June 13, 2024

Wittenberg professor Warren Copeland is petitioning to make a re-election bid for Mayor of Springfield — a position that he has served for a total of just over two decades, but a position that he is not yet ready to relinquish.
Copeland, professor of religion, recently pulled a petition from the Clark County Board of Elections to run for mayor. If elected, this would be Copeland’s sixth consecutive term and eighth term overall. He was first elected to the city commission in 1988, and has served as mayor, in total, for 21 years.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time serving the citizens of Springfield,” Copeland said, “but I hope that time isn’t over.”
The city of Springfield has a commission-manager style municipality government. The directly elected city commission serves as the legislative body and appoints a professional city manager to execute the day-to-day administrative functions of the government. The mayor serves as one of the five commissioners; commissioners serve four-year terms.
As the long-time incumbent, Copeland said he thinks he has the experience and skill set necessary for the position.
“I bring some skills to the job that are not easy to come by,” Copeland said, citing his capacity to analyze urban development issues, his ability to work well with community members, his insight on particular divisions within the city, and his willingness to work with his fellow commissioners, even when he disagrees with them.
Alongside his work as mayor, Copeland has also served as the director of the Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement — a non-profit that aims to bridge the Springfield and Wittenberg communities through service — for the last six years, and has taught courses on religion, ethics and urban development at Wittenberg. Copeland has also published various books on those same topics.
While those occupations can be demanding, Copeland said their overlap grants him particular insight into the community.
“I find I’m being intellectually refreshed by the subject-matter I teach at Wittenberg,” Copeland said. “I can apply the new things I learn to problems in the community.”
Copeland feels he has been an effective mayor thus far, but did cite that the city faces some challenges in the future, noting the decline of local manufacturing jobs.
“The biggest challenge that Springfield faces is jobs,” Copeland explained. “We’ve made some major steps forward in the last 10 years on this front, but we need to always be asking ourselves, ‘what do we need to do to make our community better down the road.’”
Though Copeland said these challenges are not small tasks, for him, working to solve problems and make the community better are his favorite parts of being mayor.
“Having a sense you’re part of something that has bettered the community is the most rewarding part of the job,” Copeland said.
Despite over two decades as an elected official, Copeland, now 71, said he has yet to lose any energy, crediting the “spirit of young people” he feels while on Wittenberg’s campus.
“I don’t feel I’ve lost it,” Copeland said. “I feel like I’m in exactly the right place.”
Copeland ran unopposed in 2011, but may have two opponents this cycle. The Springfield News-Sun reports that William Moon, a 40-year-old pharmaceutical worker, and Sam Doyle, a 20-year-old recent Springfield High School graduate, also pulled petitions to run. All three candidates need at least 250 signatures by Feb. 4 to be placed on the ballot. If all gain the necessary signatures, there will be a primary race in May to decide the two candidates for the November election.
If Copeland is not reelected, his term will end Dec. 31, 2015.

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