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Published: Wednesday, 3/7/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Primary lessons

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There will be ample opportunity in the next few days, on these pages and elsewhere, to assess the importance of Mitt Romney's narrow victory in this week's Republican presidential primary in Ohio. In the meantime, other results of Tuesday's votes in northwest Ohio also warrant attention.

The most disappointing, if not surprising, election outcome was the decision by Perrysburg voters to withdraw their community from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. That they did so without a plan to replace the services TARTA provides in the city suggests an alarming lack of concern for the transportation needs of many of their neighbors.

Perrysburg's choice to isolate itself in this instance does not bode well for the future of regional cooperation on other vital issues and services. A go-it-alone attitude will hamper the economic recovery of all of metropolitan Toledo, including communities that define public policy in terms of us-against-them.

Other TARTA members, notably Sylvania Township and Rossford, also are contemplating secession from the transit authority. Voters in these communities should carefully evaluate Perrysburg officials' ability to deliver on their promise of better service at a lower cost before pursuing a similar course.

Much more encouraging was Toledo voters' agreement to renew the city's 0.75 percent temporary income tax, despite the still-rocky local economy. Voters heeded warnings by Mayor Mike Bell and other leaders that loss of the revenue from the tax would have devastated the city's ability to provide police and fire protection, fix streets, and plan for long-term capital improvements.

Similarly, voters in other local communities approved a large majority of the public-school levies and bond issues on Tuesday's ballot. Although several of the victories came on extremely thin margins, it's heartening that even in tough times, taxpayers understand the importance of adequate financial support for institutions and programs that benefit everyone: schools, libraries, police departments, parks and recreational facilities, road repair, and providers of health and social services.

In the most closely watched local race aside from the GOP presidential primary, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) won renomination by her party's voters in the 9th Congressional District. In the general election, Miss Kaptur will face Republican challenger Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, whose victory margin in the district's GOP primary was surprisingly small.

Voters made the right call on Miss Kaptur, who has represented the 9th District well for three decades. Still, it's a shame that Ohio will lose the services of the primary opponent she defeated, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland). Mr. Kucinich has contributed more to the public life of this state than many of the incumbents in Ohio's House delegation who were protected by a Republican-controlled redistricting plan.

A final discordant note was the defeat of Seneca County Commissioner Dave Sauber in that county's Republican primary. It's to be hoped that Mr. Sauber's courageous opposition to the county board majority's eagerness to demolish the historic Seneca County Courthouse didn't spell his loss.

Lucas and Wood County voters can be satisfied by many of this week's results, but no one should be pleased by the poor primary turnout. Fewer than one in four registered voters took part in each county, less than the statewide rate.

Local residents aren't shy about complaining about the state of national and local politics. Come November, they will need to do a better job of putting their votes where their mouths are.



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