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Published: Monday, 8/29/2005

Noe links fail to hurt Shultz, poll data show


Scandal has shadowed Betty Shultz for months, but it doesn't appear to be hurting her re-election bid.

Ms. Shultz, a Republican City Council member with ties to controversial fund-raiser Tom Noe, leads the race for six at-large council positions with 14.5 percent of likely voters making her their top pick, according to a poll for The Blade and WTVG-TV, Channel 13.

Ms. Shultz has accepted campaign cash from Mr. Noe, who stands accused of stealing money state officials gave him to invest in rare coins. She was called to testify before a grand jury investigating whether he laundered money to the Bush re-election campaign.

"It feels very humbling, and I'm speechless," Ms. Shultz said.

Another incumbent who has generated recent controversy, Democrat Karyn McConnell Hancock, appears locked in a glob of candidates vying for seats. She drew criticism earlier this year for her handling of an illegal parking incident.

The poll by Zogby International surveyed 500 likely voters in the Sept. 13 primary election. It has an error margin of 4.5 percent.

Current council members dominated the top spots. Bob McCloskey, trying to jump from a district position to an at-large one, was second with 11 percent. Current at-large members Phil Copeland (with 10.3 percent), George Sarantou (8.6 percent), and Frank Szollosi (5.6 percent), along with independent challenger Mitch Balonek (5.4 percent), rounded out the top six.

Ms. McConnell Hancock sat ninth, with 3.6 percent, in a cluster of candidates that includes Mark Sobczak (with 3.8 percent), Dave Schulz (3.7 percent), and Bob Vasquez (3.5 percent). Below them were Terry Shankland (2.7 percent), Karen Shanahan (2.3 percent), Ernie Berry (2.1 percent), Thomas Meinecke (1.6 percent), Jason Schreiner (1.1 percent), and Robert Tilton (0.8 percent).

The margin of error suggests a competitive race for every slot in the 12-person run-off field.

Contact Jim Tankersley at: jtankersley@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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