GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) — Mayor Jim Melfi was still smiling Wednesday despite losing to Democrat Mark Zuppo in the primary election.

How did he lose? According to Melfi, sometimes “experience gets penalized.”

Sitting behind his desk Wednesday afternoon, Melfi’s postmortem on his loss to Zuppo focused on his successes.

“Every day, I came to work with the intention of making Girard better,” he said.

But before he reminisced about the past, he reflected on Tuesday’s election — and one thing that worked to his disadvantage.

“We know it was a very low voter turnout,” Melfi said. “When you’re the incumbent, you need a normal turnout to have a successful night, and it didn’t happen.”

Melfi will have spent 36 years with Girard, serving as mayor for 24 years. He ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner in 2006 — but in political races, he was an impressive 9-2.

Among Melfi’s accomplishments: A deal that brought Girard property and income tax money from Vallourec, and the demolition and cleanup of the old Ohio Leatherworks Factory.

He also got the city out of a 10-year fiscal emergency.

“It involves layoffs. It involves redesigning the way government works. We were successful in doing that, but you anger some people when you do that. But I had a job to do,” he said.

If Melfi has one regret, it’s that he won’t be around to oversee the redevelopment of the Wellman Theater.

“City council bought it here a couple weeks ago,” Melfi said. “That won’t be my project, but it’s OK. Maybe it’ll still get done.”

As far as what comes next — Melfi will soon have five grandchildren under the age of 6.

“Something tells me I’m going to be busy on Jan. 1,” he said.

Though he said he owes his wife some time, he would consider running for political office again.

“I would never rule that out. I’m 65 years old. I feel great. I have a lot of experience,” he said.

Melfi isn’t done just yet. He has eight months in office as Girard’s mayor before Zuppo takes over.