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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

City Council races high on candidates, low on cash

BY JOSHUA BOAK
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo City Council races are awash with candidates but not much cash, according to semi-annual campaign finance reports filed yesterday with the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Out of 18 people total vying for three district council seats in the Sept. 11 primary election, only two raised more than $10,000, the amount triggering a mandatory campaign finance report.

In District 4, incumbent Michael Ashford raised $21,650 in the last six months. The Democrat also spent $26,129, leaving him with slightly more than $30,000 on hand.

About half his expenditures went to the campaigns of other politicians, community organizations, or churches, rather than direct spending on his own re-election effort.

If you are a Christian or a person of faith and you have the means to help, you should do that, Mr. Ashford said, adding that as an elected leader it is also his responsibility to aid fellow Democrats who share his core values.

Terry Shankland, a caterer and one of four candidates challenging Mr. Ashford, thinks there is virtue in running a campaign with hand-stenciled signs.

I don t hire people to do my work, Mr. Shankland said. I do my work myself. And I m cheap. I squeeze every penny.

In District 2, Karen Shanahan lent herself $31,000, choosing to spend her 401(k) savings against a field of nine other candidates instead of replacing her 5-year old Ford Taurus. Mrs. Shanahan said the funds are meant for the primary, which will whittle the pool of candidates down to two.

September is my deadline, she said. If I make it through, then I ll think about November.

Although the primary election is slightly more than a month away, many candidates are still ramping up their campaigns.

Molly McHugh Branyan, a real estate agent who also is running in District 2, held her official kickoff last night.

Ed Cichy, a customer service coordinator for Kroger seeking the open District 2 seat, said he is concentrating on going door to door.

In anticipation of several candidate postcards reaching voters the week before the primary, he explained that an expensive mailing strategy only assists candidates who introduce themselves personally by going door to door.

If they remember you before the mail, yeah, it will help, Mr. Cichy said. But if that s your first and only contact, that s not going to help.

In the District 6 race among incumbent Republican Joe Birmingham, Democrat Lindsay Webb, and Green Party candidate David Ball, no one submitted a finance report.

Only one candidate who raised less than $10,000 decided to turn in a finance report.

In District 5, Tom Waniewski, a registered Republican who founded Access Toledo, an Internet service provider, raised $6,150.

If I had made 50 cents, I would have filed, Mr. Waniewski said. Contributions have the potential to soil the public service component of this. I want to be above-board on everything.

Marty Skeldon, the Democratic candidate in District 5, raised $13,490. Without a third candidate in the race, the two men automatically clear the primary to run in the Nov. 6 general election.

County political parties also filed their finance reports.

The Lucas County Republican Party raised $43,641 during the last six months but spent $37,788 during the same time period. Arrocorp in Maumee gave the party rent-free office space, a $29,430 in-kind contribution.

The Lucas County Democratic Party reported $28,005 in donations to its general account. The donation period included the controversial golf fund-raiser, where strip clubs paid the party for rounds of golf and strippers provided beverage service.

As result of the incident, intraparty hostilities increased and John Irish resigned last month as chairman.

The general account report lists some of the donors to the event, but the $1,200 in profits that came from Scarlett s Cabaret in Toledo, Club Diamonds in Jerusalem Township, and Bella s Gentlemen s Club in Toledo do not appear.

Nancy Norman, the county party treasurer, said those funds might be in a separate account meant for corporate donations.

Contact Joshua Boak at: jboak@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.



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