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Published: 9/13/2005

McCloskey leads all vote-getters in primary race for Toledo council <font face="verdana" size="1" color =#CC0000><b>* New *</b></font>

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey led all vote-getters yesterday among 16 candidates in the primary election, the first stop in an electoral process to fill six at-large seats on city council.

Mr. McCloskey, a Democrat who has represented council District 3 East Toledo and Toledo s old south end since 1994, is trying to make the move to a citywide at-large seat.

I m excited, Mr. McCloskey said. I m looking forward to a four-year term on city council. I m looking forward to turning our city around and making our city a better place to work and live in.

With 92 percent of the vote reporting last night, four other council incumbents and one challenger Democrat Mark Sobczak joined Mr. McCloskey among the top six.

Incumbent Democratic Councilman Karyn McConnell Hancock was 7th in the field of 16, according to unofficial results.

The top 12 vote-getters in yesterday s primary election will battle for the six at-large seats in the Nov. 8 runoff.

Following Mr. McCloskey in the incomplete, unofficial returns was Phil Copeland, 60, a laborers union official who has never been on the ballot before. Mr. Copeland, the nephew of the late Lucas County Commission Bill Copeland, was appointed in January.

I knew it was going to be hard because it was my first time running, Mr. Copeland said. He agreed he benefitted from his late uncle s name. I think a lot of it s that. I went door to door for months, he said.

Republican incumbent Betty Shultz, who took a drubbing last year in her bid for countywide office, was in third place.

She was followed by Democratic Councilman Frank Szollosi, who was elected in 2003 and has carved out a political role for himself as a critic of former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and supporter of Mayor Jack Ford.

Rounding out the top six are Republican incumbent Councilman George Sarantou and Mr. Sobczak.

Mr. Sobczak was backed by the Lucas County Democratic Party in January for the appointment that went to Mr. Copeland.

The selection of Mr. Copeland for that seat helped widen the split between the Lucas County Democratic party s A team, which supported Mr. Copeland and Mr. Ford, and the B team which endorsed Mr. Sobczak and is allied with Mr. Finkbeiner.

Ms. McConnell Hancock s seventh place finish puts her in an uphill challenge to overcome the criticism she drew earlier this year for her handling of an illegal parking incident.

Sitting at No. 8 was Robert Vasquez, a social services administrator and a Democrat.

Rounding out the 16 finishers in the incomplete, unofficial results last night were Democrat Karen Shanahan, Republican David Schulz, Democrat Terry Shankland, independents Ernie Berry and Mitch Balonek, and Democrats Jason Schreiner, Thomas Meinecke, and Robert Tilton.

Both Mr. McCloskey and Ms. Shultz face potentially embarrassing legal problems that could dog them in the general election campaign.

Earlier this year, Ms. Shultz was called to testify to a closed-door federal grand jury investigating alleged campaign finance violations by former Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe of Maumee.

Mr. McCloskey was sued in federal court for allegedly pressuring an applicant for a rezoning application to a make a contribution to a Pilkington PLC retirees fund. Mr. McCloskey has denied the allegation. The case has not yet gone to trial.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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