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Published: Monday, 3/3/2008

The Blade's endorsements

ELECTIONS, whether local, statewide, or national, seldom generate the excitement and anticipation we've observed in advance of Ohio's presidential primary on Tuesday.

Ohioans can't wait to have their say, as early voting via what used to be known as absentee ballots seems destined to hit record levels. And, according to polls, the Buckeye State could provide the decisive votes in the presidential contest.

In Lucas County as of late last week, early and absentee voting already was double 2004's level, according to Jill Kelly, elections director. Given interest on that scale, we wouldn't be surprised if the 55 percent turnout rate predicted statewide by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is a low estimate.

For those who haven't already marked a ballot, we offer a synopsis of our endorsements for the Democratic presidential nomination, for two Toledo tax questions that have generated controversy, and for restoration of the Seneca County courthouse in Tiffin.

Our unequivocal choice for the Democratic nomination for President is Barack Obama, the U.S. senator from Illinois, whose phenomenal candidacy and message of change is propelling this year's election buzz.

Senator Obama, we believe, would be the strongest candidate to take on the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, in the November general election.

As we said in our endorsement editorial last week, Senator Obama, 46, possesses a combination of keen intellect, quiet and unflappable confidence, knowledge of public policy, and expansive world view that has become rare in candidates for the White House.

We urge Toledoans to vote FOR ISSUE 7, renewal of the 6.5-mill tax levy that supports Toledo Public Schools. This is not a new tax and tax bills won't go up if it is approved.

No one should be taken in by the misguided and misleading protests of a small group urging defeat of this issue. TPS would be crippled financially if the levy is not renewed.

In the same vein, we believe Toledo voters would be making a serious mistake that would hurt quality of life in the city if they fail to vote FOR ISSUE 1 to renew the 0.75 percent municipal income-tax surcharge.

Like the school levy, this is not a new tax. It provides nearly one-quarter of Toledo's general-fund budget, and its defeat would require the layoff of 40 percent of city employees, slowing police and fire response to crime and emergencies and limiting trash pickup and other vital services.

Voters in Seneca County have the unique opportunity to facilitate restoration of the 1884 courthouse in downtown Tiffin to its original beauty - without raising taxes - by casting their ballots FOR a proposed $8.5 million bond issue.

County commissioners have agreed not to collect the tax to retire the bonds but to find the money within current revenues. Another $2 million has been promised for the project in state funds by Gov. Ted Strickland.



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