Voters in Lorain, Ohio left no ambiguity for Wal-Mart to figure out. On Tuesday, the giant retailer’s plans to rezone 37 acres of land was roundly defeated in the election booth. “The people believe the Wal-Mart’s not good for Lorain, the lawyer for the group West Side Preservation told the Lorain Morning Journal. “It’s a great day for the underdog, in a David vs. Goliath battle. The little guy won.” Plans for a 150,000 s.f. Wal-Mart near a residential community along Cooper Foster Park road, now has to go back to square one, having lost by more than 2,500 votes. ”It looks like you can’t buy an election,” West Side Preservation said. ”We didn’t have a war chest. This was a basic, grassroots campaign.” Wal-Mart, however, did not seem to understand what happened to them. ”Obviously, we’re disappointed,” a spokesman for the company told the Journal. “We thought with the approval of the rezone, we’d be able to serve the people of Lorain better. We’re looking forward to serving them in our existing and future stores.” The Mayor of Lorain, Craig Foltin, supported the rezoning, but after it went down in flames, he backed off his position, saying ”I’m not a big Wal-Mart fan myself, but I looked at it as a zoning issue.” The citizens who beat Wal-Mart had to travel to the ballot, because the city council voted last April to rezone the land. Residents then went to the ballot — often a dangerous move given Wal-Mart’s unlimited campaign expense account. Residents used a symbolic “Walmrat”, a large inflatable rat, to represent their feelings about Wal-Mart.
Rat or no rat, Wal-Mart did not get the cheese in Lorain. Instead, all Wal-Mart got for its efforts is dust. From the sound of the Mayor’s statement on election night, Lorain might need to consider finding a new Mayor as well. For local contacts in Lorain, contact [email protected]