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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2003

Engineer to run for council

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

Republican David Dmytryka said he will announce today he plans to seek an at-large seat on Toledo City Council in the November election.

Mr. Dmytryka had sought the party's endorsement for the District 5 race but decided to run instead for an at-large seat after county GOP leaders failed to reach a decision on an endorsement in the district race.

Mr. Dmytryka, 44, a civil engineer, and Mary Beth Moran, a lawyer, interviewed Monday night for the district seat endorsement.

Mr. Dmytryka will start his campaign at an 11 a.m. news conference outside the Toledo Sports Arena on Main Street in East Toledo. He will face Democrat Frank Szollosi, who was appointed last month to fill the at-large seat vacated by Democrat Peter Ujvagi.

Mr. Ujvagi, former president of council, stepped down in early January to take a seat in the Ohio House.

The aging sports venue is an issue the Republican challenger plans to highlight during the campaign.

“The Marina District project [which includes a new sports arena] is one of the issues that seems to be slowed down. We need to find a way to promote development,” Mr. Dmytryka said. “It seems like things have slowed down, and we need to get them going again.”

He said he hopes to use his expertise as a wastewater engineer to help council as it undergoes a $400 million sewer system upgrade.

“The citizens should feel comfortable that council is making informed decisions,” he said. “I could give them informed decisions.”

The sewer project was mandated by a court settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Ms. Dmytryka and Mr. Szollosi likely will have company on the November ballot, as a second at-large seat is likely to be vacated soon. Republican at-large Councilman Gene Zmuda is considered by GOP leaders here and in Columbus to be a top prospect to be tapped soon - perhaps next week - by Gov. Bob Taft to fill a judicial vacancy on the Toledo Municipal Court.

Other candidates likely would join the race for the at-large seats, which are filled by voters citywide. The contest for the at-large seats is a “slate race,” an open competition, with the top two finishers winning the seats, said Michael Beazley, clerk of council.

Under the city charter, should Mr. Zmuda leave council for the court, the remaining council members would choose a temporary replacement. Like Mr. Szollosi, the appointee to the Zmuda seat would hold it until the winners of the November election are certified.

The Dmytryka announcement clears the way for Ms. Moran, 39, to challenge Democrat Ellen Grachek for the District 5 seat in the May 6 special election. Ms. Grachek, 25, was appointed last month to fill the seat temporarily after Democrat Tina Wozniak left it to join the Lucas County commissioners.

Neither Ms. Grachek nor Ms. Moran has run for public office before.

District 5 represents neighborhoods in the northwestern corner of the city, stretching from Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park west to Sylvania Township and from the Michigan border to just south of Central Avenue.

Ms. Moran pulled petitions from the county elections office yesterday. Candidates for the seat must submit petitions to the elections board with at least 50 signatures of registered voters who live in District 5.

The petition deadline is March 27.

Ms. Moran and Ms. Grachek received law degrees from the University of Toledo college of law. Ms. Moran has passed the bar examination and practices with her father in Toledo. Ms. Grachek failed her one attempt to pass the bar and works as a law clerk for the Toledo firm of Allotta & Farley Co. LLP.

The May 6 winner of the District 5 seat will have to defend it again in an open primary election in September. The two top finishers in that election will advance to the November election. The winner in November will earn the right to hold the seat for a full four-year term.

While council candidates are backed by political parties, the races are officially nonpartisan. Councilmen are paid $27,500 a year.



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