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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2001

Perz mulls a race for mayor

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

Former state Rep. Sally Perz said last night that a run for mayor of Toledo is “a serious possibility” because internal poll results show she might fare well.

Ms. Perz, a Republican who retired from the General Assembly because of term limits in September, 1999, and took a government relations job at the University of Toledo, said she is poised to re-enter politics.

“The clock is ticking, and there will soon be an announcement,” she told a group of about 50 at a meeting last night of the Foundation for the Future, a committee of younger adults formed to make Toledo a good place for young people to live.

If Ms. Perz, 59, ran for mayor, she would represent a new perspective.

She would be the first credible Republican candidate for mayor since the city charter was changed in 1992 to establish the mayor as an acting chief executive for the city.

Before then, the city employed a city manager who handled day-to-day administrative matters.

The filing deadline for mayor is July 13. Candidates for mayor must collect 750 signatures from registered city voters to appear on the Sept. 11 nonpartisan primary ballot.

She would join two Democrats - Ray Kest and Jack Ford - in the race. Other minor candidates have filed to run, but they have no substantial political backing.

The two top vote-getters in the September mayoral primary, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Ms. Perz said she knows the filing deadline is looming. “I'm aware that the filing deadline doesn't change for me,” she said before the meeting.

Nick Wichowski, a political little known who four years ago announced his candidacy days before the filing deadline, was able to gain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot with ease.

“If I decided to do it, my goal would be to do my part to make this city a good place to stay,” she said before the meeting at the Diva Restaurant on North Huron Street downtown. “I have five adult children living in this community. If I could make a contribution to have a better future for mine and everybody else's kids, I'd like to do it.

“There's much to be done, because Toledo is an emerging community. What will be is not what is. What will be is not what has been,” she said.

Mr. Kest, the Lucas County treasurer since 1984, is running from a protected position - he was re-elected last year. He would resign his job as county treasurer if he wins the mayor's race.

Mr. Ford, a state representative and the minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives, will retain his seat in Columbus should he lose, though he will give up his Democratic leadership post next month.

Ms. Perz's consideration of the race is based largely on the results of a public opinion poll that shows she would fare well in a three-way mayoral race against Mr. Ford and Mr. Kest.

While she declined to cite specific poll results, she said she believes she can make it through the primary election and has a good chance of winning the head-to-head November contest.

Patrick Kriner, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said the poll was encouraging.

The point, he said, was “not only just to run but to have the potential to win in November.”

Mr. Kriner said he is aware of the poll results but he too declined to give specifics.

Gary Abernathy, spokesman for the Ohio GOP, said the party was engaged in talks with Ms. Perz.

“There wouldn't be any point in continuing our discussions if the numbers weren't encouraging,” he said.

“She certainly would bring a lot to the table as a possible candidate [considering] the experience in Columbus and her relationship with the people down in Columbus,” Mr. Kriner said.

Though Mr. Kest, an unendorsed Democrat who has been preaching a pro-business mantra on the campaign trail, has solicited campaign contributions from Republican sources, Mr. Kriner said he would work hard to see that Ms. Perz would have enough money from GOP supporters to run a credible race.

He said he has no firm financial commitment from party contributors, but added, “I have had people tell me they are ready to commit should we have a credible Republican candidate for mayor.

“As far as fund-raising goes, they certainly are excited about a possible candidate,” Mr. Kriner said.



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