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Published: Tuesday, 10/19/2004

Poll gives Telb a wide lead in sheriff's race

This week, The Blade will report the results of a local Zogby International poll. Today's story is about how Lucas County residents rate the candidates for sheriff, recorder, and clerk of courts.

Despite recent trouble with underlings and difficulties at the Lucas County jail, Sheriff James Telb holds a wide lead over two challengers heading into the last two weeks of his re-election campaign, a new poll shows.

Democratic clerk of county courts Bernie Quilter also enjoys a wide lead over Republican challenger Theresa Gabriel, and Democrat Anita Lopez leads Republican Melanie Perz in the race for Lucas County recorder, an open seat being vacated by Democrat Sue Rioux, who is retiring.

The Blade/Zogby poll, conducted Friday and Saturday, included interviews with 700 likely voters in Lucas County, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

Mr. Telb leads in the race for sheriff, winning 42 percent support, compared to 20 percent for Republican challenger Tom Gulch. Independent Danny Contreras has 15 percent support, with 22 remaining undecided.

Aided by the fact his two opponents appear to be splitting the opposition vote, Mr. Telb holds double-digit leads over his nearest competitor in most demographic categories.

Among respondents in the city of Toledo, he leads with 43 percent support, compared to 16 percent for both Mr. Gulch and Mr. Contreras. Outside the city, he has the support of 38 percent, followed by Mr. Gulch at 30 percent and 15 percent for Mr. Contreras.

"I like the numbers," said Sheriff Telb, who is running in his sixth election. "I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to continue working hard and talk to as many groups as I can."

Mr. Gulch, a longtime Toledo police officer who is now the chief of police in Oregon, said he's planning a full-court press until Election Day.

"We go with the money we have. We spend every penny of it to get out the word to as large a crowd as we can that there have been serious problems in the sheriff's office," Mr. Gulch said, adding that he believes he can run a tighter ship.

Mr. Contreras said he knew his campaign has been a long shot, but that he will continue the campaign to the end.

"I had thought we would be doing better by now," he said. "I knew I was fighting name recognition."

The race for county recorder now leans toward Democrat Lopez, who holds a 44 percent to 32 percent edge with 24 percent undecided.

Ms. Lopez said she was pleased with the numbers.

"I've been working hard all year, so I am hoping that with my continued hard work, I will be able to maintain these figures," she said."

Ms. Lopez, a lawyer, has emphasized her legal experience in the race, saying the office needs to be run by a lawyer. Ms. Perz, a real estate agent, has said the recorder runs a business office that needs the attention of an experienced business manager.

"The numbers are pretty good for a first-time candidate, being that my name has never appeared on a ballot before," Ms. Perz said. "The bottom line is that it's going to come right down to the undecideds."

Ms. Perz leads among independent voters, 32 percent to 29 percent, the poll shows. Thirty-eight percent of independents remain undecided.

In the city of Toledo, Ms. Lopez holds a 46 percent to 29 percent lead, while Ms. Perz leads outside Toledo, 40 percent to 38 percent, with 22 percent of suburbanites undecided.

In the race for clerk of county courts, incumbent Bernie Quilter, a Democrat, holds a wide lead over Republican challenger Theresa Gabriel, leading 49 percent to 27 percent. He leads in almost every demographic category.

"I think these are great numbers," Mr. Quilter said. "We are going to continue to really get out the vote. I think it also shows that people are happy with what we have been doing these last five years."

Mr. Quilter was appointed to the office in 1999, and was unopposed in 2000.

Ms. Gabriel, a longtime city administrator who served most of 2003 as the clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, said she is not discouraged that she is trailing in the race.

"It's still a race until 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2. I am still campaigning hard. I knew when I entered this race that I was running against the Quilter name, kind of a dynasty in Democratic politics," she said. "Hopefully, the Republicans will come out en masse to support us candidates."

The county clerk of courts keeps all court records and manages the titling of cars and watercraft in the county.

Tomorrow: Tax levies for Toledo Public Schools and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Contact Fritz Wenzel at:

fritz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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