Lucas County commissioner candidates Ben Konop and George Sarantou both want to establish a county ethics commission, yet they still manage to criticize each other's plans.
"None of us can escape from the fact that ethics is the defining issue in this election," said Mr. Konop, a Democrat and visiting professor at the University of Toledo law school.
Mr. Konop offered more details yesterday on a proposed county ethics commission - one of the components of an ethics pledge he signed last week - and accused his opponent of putting "politics ahead of good government."
Mr. Sarantou, a Republican and Toledo city councilman, declined to sign the pledge. He is helping draft an ethics policy for city government that he wants to extend to the county.
"There needs to be a comprehensive effort by elected officials and others in the community to sit down and come up with an ethics policy for the county," Mr. Sarantou said. "What my opponent has done is craft an ethics policy on one sheet of paper. That is not comprehensive."
Recent indictments of local political figures have brought ethics to the forefront of the campaign.
Tom Noe, a former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, is charged with laundering money to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and stealing millions from a rare coin investment he managed for the state.
And former Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey pleaded guilty to state and federal bribery charges this month.
The Ohio Ethics Commission announced plans yesterday to investigate Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner for his attempts to retain and increase the pay of Eugene Sanders, the recently departed superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.
Members of Mr. Konop's proposed ethics commission would likely be chosen by elected officials, Lucas County Common Pleas Court judges, the UT law school dean, and the League of Women Voters.
The volunteer commission would then draw up ethics guidelines for county employees and elected officials. It would be amended after public hearings and submitted to the three-member Lucas County commission for approval.
The ethics commission would then serve in an advisory capacity to prevent problems and restore the public's confidence in government.
Asked to name a special commission that improved the government's reputation, Mr. Konop said, "The Warren Commission was helpful."
Responsible for investigating the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Warren Commission, led by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman, a controversial assessment that spawned conspiracy theories, books, and films.
"Unfortunately, we have a history of commissions who have not done their homework and increased distrust of the government," Mr. Sarantou said.
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