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Published: 2/16/2003

Council candidate has full schedule

Ellen Grachek, the Democrat law clerk who was appointed to the District 5 Toledo City Council seat last month, is a busy person. She is in the midst of putting together a political campaign to hold on to the seat.

Voters will decide in a May 6 special election.

It's the first campaign for Ms. Grachek, 26, a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law.

Appointees to Toledo's district council seats have it tough. Not only do they come into city hall with their head swimming from new facts, figures, and protocols, they must immediately figure out how to run a campaign to keep the seat. All the while, opponents are taking aim and firing shots - not something that typically happens in the average workday.

Now comes word from the Ohio Supreme Court that Ms. Grachek has signed up to take the Ohio Bar examination at the end of this month. The grueling exam, for which people dedicate months of study, has filled her schedule to the brim, she said.

“Everybody is busy. There are only 24 hours in a day,” she said. “It is a matter of self-discipline.”

But, Ms. Grachek said, the Democratic Party is lending a lot of help, from Mayor Jack Ford down.

“I am being showered with support. There is something bigger about this than just me, and I am honored,” she said.

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Ms. Grachek took the bar examination once before, failing to pass it last July. Local Republicans, sensing an opportunity, nominated 39-year-old Mary Beth Moran to run against Ms. Grachek in the May election. Like Ms. Grachek, Ms. Moran is a first-time candidate. Unlike Ms. Grachek, Ms. Moran has passed the bar and has worked as a lawyer for 13 years.

Bernadette Noe, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, has emphasized the distinction between the candidates on multiple occasions. Ms. Noe, herself a lawyer, said it is important because councilmen make laws, and, in the absence of political experience, voters should pay attention to the professional experience of the candidates.

Ms. Grachek counters that it is “not germane” to the council job. “We need to make the statement [that] there are [many] members of council who didn't go to law school and didn't take the bar,” she said. “If the implication is that you have to pass the bar and be an attorney to effectively represent the city, that is not accurate.”

The public, Ms. Grachek said, “is ill-served by attacks on people. My job is to represent the people, and that is what I am doing.”

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Presidential polling: A recent survey conducted by Zogby International in Iowa found that 75 percent of respondents who had a favorite in the race for the Democratic Party nomination expect that they might change their minds in the 11 months before the official caucuses are held.

A mild surprise in the Zogby numbers was that two out of three respondents said they had developed a presidential preference - an oddity because the campaigning is really just now getting under way.

What was alarming, given how much the field of Democratic candidates is likely to change over the course of the year, was that one in five said they would not change their minds.

Name recognition usually drives these early polls, but it seems that, in Iowa, the more they know about New York City activist Al Sharpton, the less they like him. Forty-five percent said they knew of him, and 32 percent said they would never vote for him.

He should probably focus on New Hampshire.

The overriding theme of the Zogby poll of Iowa Democrats, as captured in an analysis of the survey, is that “with less than two years remaining before the 2004 presidential election, 62 percent of Iowa Democrats believe that no matter who the Democrats nominate in Boston, George W. Bush will be re-elected.”

Just prior to the 2000 balloting, 49 percent of Democrats expected George W. Bush to win; only 33 percent said Al Gore would prevail, the analysis points out. The new poll number reveals Iowa Dems are pessimistic at best.

If this were peacetime and the country were in the midst of an economic boom, one might write off any chance that a Democrat could win the White House next year. But those are not the times in which we live. The mix of issues facing our country and our elected officials are as volatile as any seen in at least a century. Anything could happen, which is why they hold elections.



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