One of the most disturbing aspects of the two debates between the candidates for Lucas County commissioner is the permissive attitude about suburban sprawl expressed by both Democrat Sandy Isenberg and her Republican challenger Maggie Thurber.
We expected no less from Ms. Isenberg, who has a long history of coziness with the home builders and developers who have facilitated the untidy exodus of residents from Toledo to the suburbs over the past several decades.
But, in Wednesday night's debate, Ms. Thurber disappointingly trumpeted the pro-development line, too. A question on the need for preservation of the county's dwindling farmland brought a mushy, two-faced response: “When you balance that against development and growth, however, I want to make sure that if somebody decides that they want to sell their farmland ... they need to have that right as well.”
The truth is that voters need a candidate who is willing to put the brakes on sprawl to stem the tide of low-density development that has lent a “trashscape” appearance to parts of the county.
In response to the same question Ms. Isenberg declared she is all for “smart growth,” adding, “As a member of the (county) plan commission, we work diligently with the townships on their own plans. They are the ones who set the rules for the outlying areas.”
But that's just passing the buck. Everyone knows that the seat on the plan commission, as much as the presidency of the board of county commissioners, gives Ms. Isenberg considerable power to influence development beyond Toledo's borders. And it's also well-known that some of her staunchest political supporters have been developers and building-trades unions.
As for “smart growth,” all we need to do is look closely at the census figures. Over the past decade, there has been no growth in the county, only people shuffling from city to hinterlands.
Sadly for Lucas County, developers are mostly interested in making money and moving on to the next building site, gobbling up precious land in the process.
It's ironic that the Metroparks system has a levy on the same ballot as the commissioner's seat, pleading for more money to compete with those same developers in securing scarce property.
What we need in the commissioner's office is a person who can serve as a bulwark against uncontrolled sprawl, rather than giving the developers carte blanche. We wait to hear from each candidate how she is that person.