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Schulz files lawsuit to block McCloskey

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McCloskey, Schulz

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Carrying on with the political crusade he started as a candidate for Toledo City Council, Republican Dave Schulz filed suit yesterday requesting that Democratic City Councilman Bob McCloskey be prohibited from taking his seat as an at-large councilman.

The complaint, filed yesterday with Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals, charges that Mr. McCloskey was elected illegally to an at-large council seat Nov. 8 because he has already served the three terms permitted by city charter.

Mr. McCloskey plans to resign from his present term as councilman from District 3 and begin a new term that would expire Dec. 31, 2009 - two years later than his present term.

Mr. Schulz of Point Place raised the issue during his campaign for one of six at-large seats, but finished 10th.

"It's what my campaign was based on. I feel obligated to take it to its final conclusion," Mr. Schulz said in explaining why he took on the cost of filing the suit.

The attorneys handling the case are Terry Lodge and Mark Berling.

Mr. Schulz said if he's successful, the seat should be awarded to the next highest vote-getter, Democrat Bob Vasquez.

It was unclear yesterday whether the remedy would be to automatically award the seat to Mr. Vasquez for four years, or treat it as a normal vacancy, which would be filled by council until a special election could be held.

Mr. Lodge said he didn't know whether the appellate court judges would schedule a hearing.

The complaint also could be expanded to include Republican at-large Councilman Betty Shultz, who was elected to her fourth consecutive four-year term on council Nov. 8.

"I think Betty will be brought into this. If the decision goes in our favor, it will be applied to her," Mr. Schulz said.

The city charter bars a councilman from serving more than three consecutive four-year terms. But city Law Director Barbara Herring has written that if a term ends before the four years is up, it doesn't count as having been served.

Ms. Shultz's first term, as the District 5 representative, was interrupted when she was appointed to an at-large vacancy in 1997. Mr. McCloskey's third term would be interrupted when he resigns as of Jan. 3 to take over the at-large seat he won in the Nov. 8 election.

Mr. McCloskey served a bonus two-year term, 2002-2003, that was created to stagger the terms of at-large and district council members, and it was not counted toward his term limit.

Mr. McCloskey said yesterday that he had the law director's approval to run, and that Mr. Schulz had the right to challenge it.

He offered no other comment.

Mrs. Herring did not return a call seeking comment.

John Loftus, acting spokesman for Mayor Jack Ford, said he hadn't seen the complaint yet and declined to comment.

- TOM TROY

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