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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

10 Democratic hopefuls vow clean campaigns

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

“We, as the Democratic Party, are making a promise to the voters that we will run our campaigns cleanly,” said Vallie Bowman-English, a first-time candidate running for clerk of Toledo Municipal Court against incumbent Theresa Gabriel. “We know what voters want,” Ms. Bowman-English said. “They want an open, honest, discussion on the issues.”

Signing the pledge were Frank Szollosi and Karyn McConnell, who are running for at-large seats on council, and six others - Wilma Brown, Christy Cole, Bob McCloskey, Michael Ashford, Ellen Grachek, and Wade Kapszukiewicz - who are running for district seats on council.

Debbie Barnett is running for a seat on the Toledo school board.

The candidates differed somewhat in how the pledge might influence their campaigns.

Ms. Brown said she never comments on opponents.

“I leave it up to the media,” she said. “I only talk about what I have done.”

But Mr. Szollosi said he would not feel so constrained. “If [an issue or a situation involving an opponent] is related to their duties as a public official, it probably has some bearing” and should be discussed, he said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the pledge is pretty clear.

“The committee has done a pretty good job of defining what is in bounds and what is out of bounds,” he said. In its opening sentence, it calls for candidates to “be committed to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility toward my opponent.”

The pledge, adapted for local use by the Toledo-Lucas County Clean Campaign Committee, was first created by the Institute for Global Ethics, a public affairs think tank based in Camden, Maine. It was first introduced as a pilot program in Ohio in 1998.

The committee monitors the behaviors and proclamations of candidates and issues periodic reports on how it believes the pledge is being followed.

Ali Moazed, spokesman for the committee, said Democrats signed the pledge even before it could contact them to urge them to do so.

“We're pleased to see the Democratic Party has taken a proactive approach toward adopting the principles of the clean campaign pledge,” Mr. Moazed said.

“We would like to see such a proactive stance taken by all of the candidates running for office this year,” he said.

Bernadette Noe, chairman of the county GOP, said she would probably advise her slate of candidates to sign the pledge, but that they have yet to discuss it.

Republican Mary Beth Moran, who is running against Ms. Grachek in District 5, signed the pledge earlier this year. So had Ms. Grachek, whose signing of it again yesterday was merely symbolic.

The Clean Campaign Committee will meet soon to plot strategy for monitoring the various campaigns, Mr. Moazed said. It was formed in 2001 to monitor the Toledo mayoral race. At that time, it was the first of its kind in the nation to monitor the race for mayor of a sizable American city.



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