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Published: Friday, 9/15/2006

Konop, Sarantou talk on seniors' concerns

The Lucas County commissioner's race continued its pattern yesterday of Democrat Ben Konop promoting his "new ideas" and Republican George Sarantou claiming those ideas already are in place.

Mr. Konop proposed giving senior citizens used cell phones set to dial 911 in case of an emergency, an automated daily phone call to check in on them, and a specialized seven-week police academy.

"There's not going to be a shooting range," he said of the academy. "It's more of a classroom-type thing where they talk about identity theft, mail fraud, things seniors deal with."

Volunteers would donate the cell phones and run the police academy at no cost to taxpayers, Mr. Konop said.

He estimated the subscriber-based automated call program, which would dispatch a police officer if the senior citizen doesn't respond, would cost $24,000 a year.

Mr. Sarantou, a Toledo councilman, said the Toledo Police Academy trains seniors on these issues. Since 2000, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program has educated retirees on how to visit shut-ins and the disabled. "I spoke at their graduation a couple years ago," Mr. Sarantou said.

Both candidates said they value the contributions seniors make to a community.

Mr. Sarantou said he has labored on city council to lower their utility rates and maintain police and fire services.

Mr. Konop does not hold an elected office, but said that personal experiences have guided his policies. "I've always been taught to honor and respect my elders," he said. "When I go to a senior event, I feel as though I have 50 grandmothers."

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