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Published: Wednesday, 8/18/2004

Barlos says he is debating Gerken


Lucas County Commissioner Harry Barlos, who is fighting to retain his seat against a challenge from fellow Democrat Pete Gerken, yesterday accused the Toledo City Council member of trying to paint him as an incumbent afraid to debate the issues.

Mr. Gerken challenged Mr. Barlos during a news conference Sunday to a series of weekly debates to discuss county issues.

Mr. Barlos said yesterday he has six debates and public forums scheduled with Mr. Gerken that will give the public opportunities to hear their views on county government.

We haven t reached the Guinness Book of World Records yet, but I know we ve got more debates scheduled than George Bush and John Kerry, Mr. Barlos said. I ve never backed down from the opportunity to debate my opponent. Although we are both products of the Democratic Party, there is a stark contrast in how each of us plans to address key issues for Lucas County.

Mr. Gerken said yesterday he stands by his challenge.

Why not give the public every opportunity to hear us? Mr. Gerken asked. That s where I m coming from.

Mr. Barlos said the two candidates had appeared together on former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s public affairs show on WTVG-TV Sunday.

I can only assume that my opponent forgot about the taping or that he is intentionally misleading the public about these confirmed future appearances, Mr. Barlos said.

Kari Slater, Mr. Barlos spokesman, said three candidate forums are planned in September and three in October and proposals for three more debates are pending. That averages to one debate every 13 days. Harry doesn t have the flexibility to take additional time from his responsibilities as commissioner, she said.

Mr. Gerken prefers head-to-head debates. He said candidate forums don t give the public the same opportunity to judge opponents.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:chughes@theblade.comor 419-724-6095.

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