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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

3 vie in N. Toledo runoff

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three men who grew up in Toledo City Council District 6 are vying in the runoff election set for Sept. 9.

Voters will choose from the incumbent, Democrat Wade Kapszukiewicz, and two challengers who claim they can do a better job - Republican Joe Birmingham and Independent David Ball. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election on Nov. 4.

“I have worked hard to put a priority on both citywide issues and district issues,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. He cites accomplishments ranging from the first funding for Ottawa River dredging to creation of a regional prescription drug discount plan.

His challengers say his tenure has been a springboard for citywide issues, rather than the mundane tasks of district representation.

In addition, Mr. Ball and Mr. Birmingham have said they disagree with council's recent ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, which Mr. Kapszukiewicz supported.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz has represented District 6 since January, 1999, when he was appointed to a vacancy. He was elected to serve the remainder of the term in a special election that year, and to a two-year term in 2001.

All six district council seats are up for election this year.

Mr. Birmingham, 34, is a deputy Lucas County treasurer and sales and training manager in the family-owned Birmingham Limousine business. He grew up near Joe E. Brown Park and lives not far from where his parents live. He and his wife, Danielle, have a 2-year-old son.

A volunteer in previous Republican campaigns, Mr. Birmingham was president of the Toledo Area Young Republicans from 1998 to 2000.

“I personally don't believe the people in the district are getting proper representation for basic city services,” Mr. Birmingham said. “Their complaints are going unanswered.” He said one of the most frequently mentioned complaints is police enforcement.

Mr. Ball, 25, has a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and politics from the University of Toledo. He works for the family landscaping business, but has been taking time off to campaign for council.

Mr. Ball said his major issue is the pollution of the Ottawa River, which he believes has been ignored by the city.

He said Mr. Kapszukiewicz is too disconnected from his district.

“I think you should be more involved in your community. People who call you, you should respond back. The Ottawa River is right in your community. You should be more involved in that. It's polluted,” Mr. Ball said.

He objected to the 11-0 vote on the smoking ban. “That tells me either they're all in cahoots, or they're not thinking their own mind,” Mr. Ball said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz, 30, graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1994, where he studied communications and political science. He has a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. He is a consultant for the Compass drug treatment agency. He and his wife, Sarah, have no children.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz says his attention to District 6 has paid off with:

w $200,000 in the city's capital improvements budget to dredge the Ottawa River for the first time.

w $1 million worth of streetscape beautification on Summit Street and Lagrange Street, including a gateway marker to Point Place.

w New playground equipment at Ottawa River School Park and funding for new tennis courts and other improvements to Wilson Park.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz cites creation of the prescription drug network that allows residents of Toledo and 19 other jurisdictions to buy prescription drugs at a discount. He also founded the Born Readers Program with the Mercy Health Partners hospitals, which provides a free book to each newborn.

He defended his vote on the smoking ban, saying it was targeted at improving the quality of the air. He said he was disappointed that opponents were not able to place a repeal referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.

He is the deputy president of council and chairman of its economic development committee.



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