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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 1/16/2014 - Updated: 10 months ago

COMMENTARY

District 2 City Council candidate has roots, passion

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

Marcia Helman is what we used to call “a spitfire.” She’s a person who believes in hard work and exudes enthusiasm. She is “old school,” and I wish there were more like her.

For 30 years she has run the Lickity Split, a beloved ice cream emporium on Glendale Avenue. Now she’s running for the Toledo City Council seat in District 2 — to replace Mayor Mike Collins. She is running as an independent. The election is May 6.

She told me the other day, over coffee and tea at Plate 21, that she has been thinking about such a run for 15 years. But she had to get the full consent of her husband and her father. Both worried about the roughness of politics. Her husband thought her moral standards were too high for the game. But both are “all ahead full” now.

Ms. Helman says she was inspired by Sandy Spang’s campaign — the idea that a woman without political debts could get elected to council. She says when she started in business a generation ago, women were not taken seriously. She also paid attention to Mr. Collins’ campaign for mayor — it showed the underdog, going door-to-door and person-to-person, could triumph.

What does she want to accomplish on council? Well, she’d like to be a fiscal hawk, she knows that. She built a business that never had a predictable profit, so she feels she knows how to be prudent and cut costs.

But Ms. Helman is the first to say she is no Joe McNamara on policy, or Mike Collins on digging deep. Her two big goals are to provide services to her neighborhood and boost Toledo.

She says her campaign motto will be, “I am District 2.” It’s an unusual slogan in that it has the ring of truth.

She was born in the South End, has always lived there, and has employed hundreds of teenagers there each summer. She says they have taught her and kept her young. She intends to spend the rest of her days there, win or lose.

Her roots go deep. She has given years of service to the Walbridge Park board. She says she thinks she and other volunteers have made Walbridge the best park in the city, with the best celebration on July 4.

And she is a longtime member of the Arts Commission and was former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s arts liaison — a voluntary job, although she says she often gave the effort 40 hours a week.

She wants to boost the arts and youth movements in Toledo. She loves the idea that a new, creative generation is about to take hold in the city. Indeed, she has hired one of Ms. Spang’s young strategists to run her campaign, which will be chaired by Rob Ludeman, who recruited her.

She says District 2 was lucky to have Mr. Ludeman and Mr. Collins representing it, and she hopes she can do as well. But, she adds, “Too much humility will not get me elected.”

Ms. Helman has many friends in District 2 and has hitched her star to a new independent political machine. She says she will campaign hard and even learn to raise funds.

Though she is 63, she has that spitfire energy. She will be hard to beat.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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