Early voting is under way in Toledo City Council's District 4 for the May 3 special election to replace Michael Ashford, who was elected last year to the General Assembly. Of the three candidates who seek to serve the final seven months of Mr. Ashford's four-year term, PAULA HICKS-HUDSON is the best choice.
District 4 stretches from North Toledo to parts of the old South End, and includes downtown. The Lucas County Democratic Party named Ms. Hicks-Hudson in January to occupy the district seat until the special election. Like her challengers, Republican Alfonso Narvaez and Democrat Terry Shankland, Ms. Hicks-Hudson also plans to run for a full Council term later this year.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson was chief counsel of the Ohio Office of Management and Budget under former Gov. Ted Strickland. Previously, she was an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, public defender, and director and deputy director of the county Board of Elections.
She says City Council members must both prepare for the future and address the immediate problems of Toledoans with fewer resources than in the past. She says she is working on a plan to respond to an expected influx of halfway houses in the city.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson also wants the city to partner with neighborhood churches and other groups that could provide eyes and ears on issues such as abandoned homes and illegal trash dumping.
Mr. Narvaez is a sociology major at Lourdes College and treasurer of the Lucas County Republican Party. He says District 4 residents are frustrated by current leaders who don't do enough to combat violence or secure vacant buildings.
City Council, he says, should listen to residents who have ideas about how to fix the city's problems and are willing to donate their time and resources to improve life for everyone. He argues Council should cut things that aren't needed.
He calls Mayor Mike Bell's proposal to spend $60,000 a year on a city lobbyist in Columbus a "waste of taxpayer money." While he'd rather that local instead of Chinese investors had bought The Docks, he says "the key is someone investing" in Toledo. Mr. Narvaez is a young political activist with a bright future.
Mr. Shankland owns a local catering business and has sought elective office several times. He calls himself a fiscally conservative Democrat and says unions and business can work together to build a better city.
Mr. Shankland says reasonably priced parking and lower rents could induce businesses and residents to return to downtown. People are reluctant to live in Toledo, he says, because they are concerned about safety.
Juveniles wander the streets and get in trouble because the city doesn't enforce its curfew, he argues. To help reduce crime, he wants police to conduct monthly sweeps for curfew violators, then hold the young people until a parent or guardian picks them up.
Of the candidates, Ms. Hicks-Hudson's broad experience in public service gives her the edge. Three months isn't enough time to put together a record of accomplishment on City Council, but PAULA HICKS-HUDSON has made a credible start. District 4 voters should give her the opportunity to continue to serve.