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Political novices and veterans jockey to fill 6 city at-large seats

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The Toledo City Council race for six at-large seats offers a mix of incumbents and novices, on-going issues and new ones.

Five incumbents, Democrats Phil Copeland, Karyn McConnell Hancock, and Frank Szollosi, and Republicans George Sarantou and Betty Shultz, seek to retain their seats. (Council President Louis Escobar has decided not to run.) District 3 Councilman Bob McCloskey, Democrat, is running for an at-large seat.

Meanwhile, Independent Ernie Berry, Republican Dave Schulz, and Democrats Karen Shanahan, Terry Shankland, Mark Sobczak, and Bob Vasquez are also on the ballot. And Amanda Mary Scott Rice, a Democrat, is the sole registered write-in candidate for the race.

Among the issues facing the city as a whole are economic development, including regional partnerships and job creation and retention; the city's role in building a sports arena; downtown development, including the Marina District; public safety, and brain drain.

Several candidates have pet projects or issues as well.

Ernie Berry, 21, believes jobs, education, public safety, and technology are the city's key issues. All are related, he said, and need a cohesive solution.

Phillip Copeland, 60, is "all about the jobs," and says the city needs to market itself to companies from elsewhere in the country on its virtues so that they will locate here.

Bob McCloskey, 60, focuses on strong neighborhoods, home ownership, and recreational opportunities to keep the city thriving. A good working relationship between council and mayor is also important, he says.

Karyn McConnell Hancock, 33, wants to see further steps toward downtown revitalization, and strong cooperation among regional governments.

George Sarantou, 53, sees many city issues in terms of dollar signs: high utility rates, economic development, and budget cuts are a few of them. He'd like to see Toledoans take more pride in their city.

Dave Schulz, 36, wants to phase out the job for which he's running, reducing council to nine seats, all of which would be district seats. He has focused on economic development and campaign ethics.

Karen Shanahan, 59, wants to bring bigger stores back to downtown, and favors more economic opportunity for folks in Toledo's central-city area.

Betty Shultz, 75, considers herself council's "financial watchdog." If elected to a final term, she'd like to make city government more efficient, and lure more business to the area.

Terry Shankland, 59, is a small business owner whose campaign has focused on helping other such owners do business in the city with more incentives and less red tape.

Mark Sobczak, 49, favors pro-business legislation, the technology corridor, and a Toledo-first approach to regional economic development.

Frank Szollosi, 33, backs the Marina District and fiscal responsibility generally. The recent riot highlighted the need for youth training and educational programs, he said.

Bob Vasquez, 53, wants to see more cooperation among local governments and colleges to spark growth, and a resolution to the question of where to put a sports arena.

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

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