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Published: Sunday, 10/23/2011

Editorial

For Toledo City Council

Half of the seats on Toledo's 12-member City Council are up for election Nov. 8. These members are elected by geographic district rather than at large.

Five incumbents are seeking new four-year terms; the remaining race is for an open seat. Council candidates run without formal party designations, but generally with party affiliations.

The Blade recommends these candidates:

DISTRICT 1

Term limits prevent Council President Wilma Brown, a Democrat, from running again in this district, which stretches from Tremainsville Road and Sylvania Avenue to Reynolds Road. Of the two candidates to succeed her, the better choice is TYRONE RILEY.

Mr. Riley, a lawyer, grew up in the district and knows its problems well. He was an aide to former state Rep. Casey Jones of Toledo and was minority coordinator of Democratic U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum's 1988 campaign. Ms. Brown has endorsed Mr. Riley.

Mr. Riley's opponent, Aji Green, is a law clerk who ran unsuccessfully for the Toledo Board of Education two years ago. He has worked on Democratic campaigns and has strong labor support.

The candidates have similar positions on issues such as crime, economic development, and abandoned homes. The choice for voters essentially is between labor's candidate and Ms. Brown's candidate.

Unions already have plenty of voices on the council. It's a close call, but TYRONE RILEY is better prepared to speak for all residents of District 1 and the city.

DISTRICT 2

Incumbent D. MICHAEL COLLINS has earned re-election in this district, which extends from the Maumee River across South Toledo and curls up west of Reynolds Road.

A political independent and former president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, Mr. Collins is an impassioned defender of unions. But he also has shown his ability to work in the best interests of the city as a whole. He has raised tough but valid questions, for example, about development of the Marina District.

Mr. Collins' challenger, Republican Jeremy Demagall, was fired this year as deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections after the fiasco over the board's handling of provisional ballots in last November's election. That record would not seem the best credential for seeking elective office. His complaints that Mr. Collins is unfriendly to business do not offer adequate reason to fire the incumbent. D. MICHAEL COLLINS deserves another term.

DISTRICT 3

In this district, which includes East Toledo and part of the Old South End, incumbent MIKE CRAIG merits re-election.

Mr. Craig has cast tough votes on contract issues that have earned him the enmity of local labor leaders. His union-backed challenger, Shaun Enright, does not offer the kind of experience and qualifications that would justify unseating the incumbent. District voters should retain MIKE CRAIG.

DISTRICT 4

Incumbent PAULA HICKS-HUDSON has earned election to a full term in this district, which includes central-city Toledo and the Old West End. Ms. Hicks-Hudson was appointed in January to replace Michael Ashford, who was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. She easily won a special election in May to complete the remainder of Mr. Ashford's term.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson was chief counsel to the Ohio Office of Management and Budget under former Gov. Ted Strickland. She has been an assistant county prosecutor, a public defender, and director and deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Her challenger, Green Party candidate Anita Rios, is a patient advocate and president of the Toledo chapter of the National Organization for Women. She was her party's nominee for lieutenant governor of Ohio last year.

Ms. Rios offers intriguing ideas about promoting worker-owned cooperative businesses, reducing the number of vacant homes and increasing home ownership through programs to reward sweat equity, creating a youth government internship program, and improving public transit.

Ms. Rios' idealism is laudable. But PAULA HICKS-HUDSON's experience makes her the better choice.

DISTRICT 5

Incumbent Republican TOM WANIEWSKI has earned a new term in this West Toledo district. During his first term, Mr. Waniewski has compiled a solid record of fiscal responsibility and constituent service.

He has been an effective advocate for his district, promoting businesses on Sylvania Avenue, a high-tech neighborhood watch program, recycling incentives, and art in public places. His online constituent newsletter is state of the art.

Mr. Waniewski's challenger is Democrat Jim Martin, a recently retired Toledo Fire Department captain and former president of the city firefighters' union. He is one of several union-supported candidates who are running to protest council incumbents' votes on labor issues.

Mr. Waniewski voted last year to support Mayor Mike Bell's declaration of a budget emergency that allowed him to suspend several provisions of city labor contracts in the face of union intransigence. Mr. Martin, a first-time candidate, also criticizes the incumbent for supporting the merger of the Toledo and Ottawa Hills fire departments.

These pro-taxpayer stances deserve credit, not blame. TOM WANIEWSKI merits re-election.

DISTRICT 6

Incumbent LINDSAY WEBB generated controversy in her North Toledo district this year when she pushed the deadline to file for re-election to its limit -- and, critics assert, beyond. That carelessness was disconcerting.

More troubling was Ms. Webb's advocacy in 2009 (with Mr. Waniewski's help) of a misguided plan to change the city charter to eliminate the council's at-large representatives and reduce the body to nine members. Although voters rejected this proposal after a costly campaign, the council members' attempt to circumvent the Charter Review Commission did them no credit.

Yet these lapses, while disturbing, finally do not offer adequate cause to deny Ms. Webb a new term. The Democrat and Point Place resident has done a reasonable job of balancing the imperative to limit taxes with the need to invest in essential services. She says she wants to examine options other than general-fund spending for recreational amenities.

Her challenger is Douglas DeCamp, a solutions engineer for HCR ManorCare. He says he wants to dismantle the city's golf course fund and cut money for municipal swimming pools.

While frugality can be appealing in a candidate, in this case it goes too far. With reservations, The Blade considers LINDSAY WEBB the better choice.



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