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Published: Monday, 10/17/2005

Shultz aims to be finance watchdog

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For Betty Shultz, outrage keeps paving her political path.

About 30 years ago, as a classroom mom, she saw a teacher mistreat a student. That prompted her to run for the Washington Local school board, to which she was elected in 1976. She remained on the board until 1993, when her anger at the city's treatment of business people spurred her to run for City Council.

Elected from District 5 in 1993, Mrs. Shultz was appointed to fill an at-large vacancy in 1997, and was elected to the at-large seat later that year. In 2003, fed up with the local Democratic party, she changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

And now she is making her final run for a City Council at-large seat. Her reason? It's all about the money.

"I'm the financial watchdog: How are we funding projects? Show me the money," she said.

The city's computer systems are one item she'd like to resolve before she leaves council. Different departments use different software, making transferring data problematic at best and impossible in some cases.

"The equipment the city uses needs to be brought into this century," she said. Departments "need to be able to have timely information in a timely manner so they can better manage their finances."

Balancing the city's budget and luring business to the area are two more financial concerns.

"We must attract new business and diversify our businesses," she said. "We've been an automotive town. But they don't make cars the same way anymore. They don't use steel; they use plastic. They've changed the way they make cars, and we need to change our dependence on one industry. We need to be willing to accept change."

And the growth must happen regionally. "If there isn't a strong hub, this region won't flourish," she said, adding that she supports "smart growth."

Other pet issues include making sure that the city has enough police officers and firefighters and that they have "the best equipment."

"I'm a police officer's daughter," she explained.

At 75, she is the oldest person running for council, and she said that gives her a unique perspective.

"I'm damned old, and I've had a lot of life experience," she said with a smile.

That makes her less reluctant to ask questions, she said.

"I'm not afraid to challenge people if I believe there's something wrong," she said.

Contact Vanessa Winans at: vwinans@theblade.com or 419-724-6168.



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