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Published: 10/15/2005

More candidates submit credit scores

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Councilman Bob McCloskey gives permission to The Blade to run a credit check after several candidates released theirs. Councilman Bob McCloskey gives permission to The Blade to run a credit check after several candidates released theirs.
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Sobczak Sobczak
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Shultz Shultz
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More Toledo City Council candidates came forward yesterday with financial information - some willingly, and some grudgingly.

Mark Sobczak came to The Blade bearing a credit report he had run himself on Thursday. Fellow Democrat Bob McCloskey passed him in the lobby as he came to give permission for the credit check. Even Republican hold-outs Betty Shultz and George Sarantou, who have consistently said no to The Blade's requests for information, released their credit scores. The sole write-in candidate in the at-large race, Amanda Mary Scott Rice, also allowed a full credit check.

That leaves three at-large candidates, Republican Dave Schulz, and Democrats Terry Shankland and Karyn McConnell Hancock, declining to share credit information with the public or allow a credit check to be run.

District 6 candidate Kate Ryan Schwartz, an Independent, also gave permission for the credit and criminal background checks. Independent David Ball and Republican Joe Birmingham, two other candidates in that race, are considering the request. The Blade has been unable to reach Democrat Donald A. Bensman.

Results of the credit history varied. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with a higher number considered more desirable. Candi-dates' scores ranged from 423 to 781.

Mr. Sarantou agreed last night to release his credit score only. It was 781, the highest of the council candidates to date.

He said he decided to provide his overall score because other candidates had been providing personal financial information to The Blade, but he still would not detail his personal debt and payment history.

Ms. Shultz ran her credit check yesterday and invited a reporter to her home to view the report, but when the reporter arrived, she released only her credit score, a 716, which is considered very good. She declined to release her level of credit card debt because it varies with her husband's business.

Mr. McCloskey has a credit score of 631 and credit card balances totaling about $11,300, according to the report run by the Credit Bureau of Toledo for The Blade. All his credit card accounts, called revolving accounts in the report, carry the highest rating.

Like Mrs. Shultz, he agreed to the financial check with reluctance. "I felt after 12 years on City Council, you have all the information on me you could possibly want to know," he said.

Ms. Scott-Rice, the write-in candidate, has a credit score of 423 and a number of accounts either written off or closed by the credit grantors. The report indicates no current credit balances. It also indicates she has $15,300 in accounts "closed with balance," with $5,023 past due on those. Five accounts have been placed for collection. She was unable to be reached for comment last night.

Mr. Sobczak ran his report on Thursday. It indicated his credit score is 755, and he had a credit card balance of $6,788. He said that amount has been paid in full, and his current balance is about $2,700. He stressed he pays off his credit cards monthly.

He agreed to share the information "just to put it to rest," he said. "I've got nothing to hide."

Ms. Schwartz, the District 6 hopeful, has a credit score of 566 with a credit card balance of $102, and another $1,971 in accounts "closed with balance," her report states. She said Thursday she recently filed for bankruptcy. She could not be reached for comment last night.

The Blade's request for criminal history and credit information has troubled some candidates but caused little anxiety to others. It inspired a few musings yesterday from candidate Frank Szollosi on his online blog, http://szollositoledo.blogspot.com.

"The Blade's legitimate requests for background checks and credit reports Tuesday night caught me off guard," Mr. Szollosi wrote. "My response was clumsy, not organized. I had privacy issues to think through, and emotions to get in check about disclosing personal financial information to the world.

"You have to be a public official or candidate to truly appreciate the contours of this experience. Perception is so easily taken for reality. Your willingness to engage is a reflection of your commitment to service. How do you delineate privacy as a public official? You know you want to do the right thing. I decided to show my cards."

Blade staff writer Joshua Boak contributed to this report.

Contact Vanessa Winans at:

vwinans@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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