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Published: 9/29/2005

City Council asked to close a loophole

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A candidate for Toledo City Council yesterday called for a change in the city charter to close a "term-limits" loophole that he said is being exploited by two incumbent members of council.

Republican Dave Schulz plans to deliver letters to the 11 members of council to ask them to vote to clarify the city charter. The 12th seat on council, representing District 6, is vacant.

Mr. Schulz said his effort is aimed at calling voters' attention to two of his opponents on the ballot Nov. 8 - Democrat Bob McCloskey and Republican Betty Shultz. All three are among the 12 candidates vying for six at-large council seats.

The city charter states a councilman may serve no more than three consecutive four-year terms. An amendment excluded a special two-year term created to stagger the elections of dis-trict and at-large members.

If elected, Mr. McCloskey and Ms. Shultz, each will have served 16 years when their terms end.

"I believe the intent of the voters was to limit councilman to 12 consecutive years," Mr. Schulz, an endorsed Republican, wrote in a letter he plans to distribute today to council members.

City Law Director Barb Herring has ruled that council members can run again if they served partial terms.

In 1997, Ms. Shultz left her District 5 seat before the term was up to fill an at-large vacancy. Mr. McCloskey is planning to resign from his District 3 seat in the middle of his current four-year term if he is elected to an at-large council seat.

Mr. Schulz yesterday called Ms. Herring's interpretation of the law "legalistic weaselry."

A change in the charter would require a signature petition from a citizen initiative or council to put the issue on the ballot.

The issue is politically charged because defeating Ms. Shultz and Mr. McCloskey would open up two seats for newcomers to join the at-large side of council.

Councilman Rob Ludeman, who has served as long as Ms. Shultz and Mr. McCloskey, said he opted against making the switch being attempted by Mr. McCloskey. "Three terms is what the voters expected and if it can be clarified so there is not an inconsistency down the road then that is a good thing to do," Mr. Ludeman said.

Council President Louis Escobar said he wanted to put the issue on the ballot in 2004 to close the loopholes but was discouraged because of the number of issues already on the ballot.

He said he thinks the charter intended no more than the three four-year terms Ms. Shultz and Mr. McCloskey have served. "It was very clear what the people intended," Mr. Escobar said.

Ms. Shultz said she was given an opinion from the city law director in 2002 saying that she could seek an additional term.

Mr. McCloskey said the voters don't care about term limits, and he accused Mr. Schulz of running for his office by running down his name.

"He has no campaign, no platform, and he's using somebody else's name to try to get recognition of the news media," Mr. McCloskey said. "This guy has no credentials to even think about running for office."

Mr. Schulz lives in Point Place and is a purchasing agent for a medical supply firm in Toledo. He has called for the reform of city government by reducing the number of city council seats.

Ms. Shultz also questioned Mr. Schulz's campaign tactics, saying Mr. Schulz is taking advantage of the similarity in their names in using signs, with black letter on white background, that are similar to hers.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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