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Published: Monday, 10/31/2005

3 council incumbents are ahead of the pack

BY JIM TANKERSLEY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Three current Toledo City Council members are leading the pack in the quest to win new terms, a poll shows - and six other candidates are locked in a pack behind them.

Incumbent at-large Councilmen Betty Shultz and Phil Copeland topped the results of the Blade/WTVG-TV, Channel 13, poll conducted by Zogby International.

The poll surveyed 601 Toledo voters who said they'd likely cast ballots on Nov. 8. Its error margin is 4.1 percent.

The council leaders were closely followed by Bob McCloskey, a district councilman looking to jump to an at-large seat, who was the top vote-getter in the Sept. 13 primary election.

Six other candidates were clustered in contention for the final three seats: incumbents Frank Szollosi, George Sarantou, and Karyn McConnell Hancock, and challengers Dave Schulz, Bob Vasquez, and Mark Sobczak.

Three other challengers trailed but, statistically, aren't out of the race: Ernie Berry, Karen Shanahan, and Terry Shankland.

The three top choices in the poll have endured sometimes-rocky campaigns.

State and federal tax collectors say Mr. Copeland owes them more than $65,000 in unpaid taxes.

Mr. Copeland says he is working out a compromise payment with the government.

Ms. McConnell Hancock also has tax issues: The Blade reported earlier this month that the IRS has filed a tax lien stating she owes $83,717 in income taxes. She said she disputes the findings and is working with the IRS to find a resolution.

Opponents have accused Mr. McCloskey of trying to skirt city term limits by shifting from a district position to at-large in the middle of his final term - which would effectively extend his time on council by two years. They also say he improperly used the term "re-elect" on some campaign signs.

Ms. Shultz faced renewed scrutiny this week over her involvement with Tom Noe, a former Toledo-area rare coin dealer indicted Thursday on three felony counts, including charges of laundering money to President Bush's campaign.

Ms. Shultz gave $2,000 to the Bush campaign and testified before the grand jury investigating Mr. Noe this summer. She has repeatedly declined to say whether she got any of that money from Mr. Noe.

Ms. Shultz led all vote-getters in the poll. She said the news Sunday humbled her and took some of the sting from a difficult week.

"I keep wondering why the people have allowed me to represent them through the years," she said. "I don't believe I've been flamboyant, and I don't think I'm anybody special. But they certainly have honored me."

Ms. Shultz is a Republican running unendorsed by the party. Mr. McCloskey is an endorsed Democrat.

Mr. Copeland is a Democrat affiliated with a competing faction of the party, which chose not to screen for endorsements.

The six candidates clustered behind them are equally diverse: Ms. McConnell Hancock, Mr. Vasquez, and Mr. Szollosi share Mr. Copeland's unendorsed Democratic faction, which supports Mayor Jack Ford. Mr. Sobczak is an endorsed Democrat who supports former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. Mr. Sarantou and Mr. Schulz are endorsed Republicans.



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