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Toledo City Council candidates focus on schools, Charlottesville

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    Early Voting Center Tuesday, August 15, 2017, in Toledo.

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A public forum Tuesday for the 13 candidates vying for six at-large City Council seats in the Toledo municipal election primary focused on ways to improve Toledo Public Schools in an effort to make the city better.

The Northwest Ohio Young Black Democrats, who hosted the nonpartisan event, also made sure each candidate clearly stated who they think was responsible for the Charlottesville, Va. tragedy.

“I am here because I want to know how those candidates feel about those issues that are important to me, [including] how they would be tackling the two big ones,” Gina Frey, 39 of Toledo said. “The way they answered those questions will determine how I vote [on Sept. 12]. There need to be changes to Toledo schools. And the issue of white supremacists needs to be dealt with too, because we have people [in Toledo] who believe in that ideology, too.”

She was one of about 40 people in the audience at the three-hour event at the YWCA near downtown Toledo.

After introductions, each of the eight candidate in attendance had 90 seconds to answer what he or she would do as a city council member to support Toledo’s schools and youth.

Solutions they proposed included growing the city’s economy to increase the school district’s funding, using a holistic approach in addressing the issues of families and neighborhoods, and increasing public support of the schools.

Each of the candidates was also given 90 seconds to say if they “believe ‘both sides’ were at fault in Charlottesville.” They were asked to give their answers, considering that “supremacists have come to Toledo in the past and are likely to return in the future.”

Each candidate said the white supremacists were solely responsible for what had happened in Charlottesville. Some said what happened there should be used as a chance to further integrate the white and black communities in Toledo to make sure nothing similar occurs here.

They were then randomly paired and given the same amount of time each to answer a variety of questions, with each pair sharing a question. The topics included immigration, downtown development, the environment, safety of the LGBTQ community, the  mayoral race, and infant mortality.

“We want to better educate the public about who the candidates are and what their positions are on issues that are important to the people who live in Toledo,” said Brittany Moore, 28, of Toledo, the president of Northwest Ohio Young Black Democrats.

The group is a regional chapter of the Ohio Young Black Democrats, which bills itself as “a statewide organization that exists to recruit, mentor, and empower a new generation of African-American political leaders in the state of Ohio.”

The missing candidates were: endorsed Republican candidates Alfonso Narvaez and Patricia “Aleeyah” Robinson; incumbent Republican Rob Ludeman and unendorsed Democrats Thomas Names and Clyde Phillips, Jr.

One candidate of the 13 seeking office will be eliminated from the race after the primary.

Contact Mike Sigov at, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.

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