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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2004

UT to host debates for 3 top local races

With the countdown under way toward the Nov. 2 general election, televised debates are being planned at the University of Toledo to highlight three top local political races.

Sponsored by The Blade and Channel 13 WTVG-TV, the debates will feature candidates for the 9th Congressional District and the two contested seats for Lucas County commissioner.

The debates will include some of the most powerful figures in local politics, and will provide an opportunity for the public to get into the act by submitting questions they would like to see the candidates answer.

The two races for Lucas County commissioner feature four candidates who have never participated in a televised debate.

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 14, incumbent Democratic Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak will debate Republican challenger Lynn Olman, a state representative from Maumee.

At 8:15 p.m. following the Wozniak-Olman debate, incumbent Democrat Harry Barlos, president of the county commission running as an independent, will debate challenger Peter Gerken, a Democrat and a Toledo city councilman.

The commissioners' debates will be taped and broadcast at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 on Channel 13.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and her Republican challenger, Lucas County Auditor Larry Kaczala, will go head-to-head in a debate at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 that will be televised live on Channel 13.

All three debates will take place at Nitschke Hall at the College of Engineering.

Free tickets for the three debates are available from the campaigns of the candidates in the debates.

"There has been so much concentration on the presidential race in Ohio this year, that these debates will give readers and viewers a good chance to focus in on these important local races and candidates that have a direct impact on all of us," said Ron Royhab, vice president and executive editor of The Blade.

"Traditionally, it's the highlight of the campaign," Lucas County Democratic Party spokesman Jerry Chabler said.

"I know our candidates are very much looking forward to them," he said.

"I can tell you what to look for. Look for very well-informed candidates who know the issues and who have been eagerly awaiting this opportunity," he said.

Bernadette Noe, chairman of the county Republicans, said the debates will be "very important because we are seeing candidates who have not run for these kinds of offices before, so they are facing issues they haven't faced before."

"We are looking for some very substantive debates. "It's great for us, for our Republican party," said Ms. Noe.

"We've got a level of excitement we haven't seen, and people are really motivated to come in and ask about issues. [The debates] take the local political scene to a higher plane of intellect," she said.

Diane Larson, Channel 13 news anchor, will moderate all of the debates.

Journalists from The Blade and Channel 13 will comprise the panels.

For the county commissioner debates, Blade reporter Dale Emch and columnist Roberta de Boer will join news anchor Lee Conklin in asking questions.

For the Kaptur-Kaczala debate, Ann McFeatters, Blade Washington bureau chief, and Fritz Wenzel, Blade political writer, will team with Mr. Conklin for the questioning.

Debate questions for the candidates may be sent to The Blade by going to the paper's Web site, www.toledoblade.com, and clicking on the debate button.

Queries also may be sent

to Channel 13 at www.wtvg.- news@abc.com.



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