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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

Kidd beats 2nd challenge to residency qualification

Kidd, left. Kidd, left.

Joe Kidd yesterday overcame a second challenge to his residency qualification to run for Toledo City Council's open District 2 seat.

Mr. Kidd keeps an apartment near his workplace in suburban Detroit but claims to rent a room in a South Toledo house, sleeping there on a mattress surrounded by dry cleaning, books about urban renewal, and an old copy of Esquire magazine.

Upon reviewing receipts he submitted, the Lucas County Board of Elections ruled last month Mr. Kidd will have lived within District 2 for more than a year by the time a new city council convenes in January.

"If they deemed I wasn't a resident, I would be having a nice cold beer someplace," said Mr. Kidd, adding that, as "a man of the people," the beer would probably be a Miller Lite.

Jeff Simpson, the endorsed Republican and one of eight other District 2 candidates, yesterday argued before the elections board that the house was not the "continuous" residence mandated by the city charter.

"When we put someone on the ballot, we're reassuring you that this man is your neighbor," said Mr. Simpson, a lawyer.

Mr. Simpson did not present any new evidence regarding Mr. Kidd's living situation. He said Mr. Kidd's previous disclosure of putting his Detroit address on tax forms casts doubt about whether he lives uninterruptedly in Toledo.

As evidence of his Toledo residency, Mr. Kidd submitted receipts for a book project about his role in exposing the misdeeds of Tom Noe, a Republican campaign donor convicted for laundering funds for President Bush's 2004 re-election and stealing millions of dollars from a state rare-coin investment fund.

While working on the book last year, a bankrupt and recently divorced Mr. Kidd began staying at 1777 Fullington Rd., the house of friend Kelly Bensman. Mr. Kidd, a former director of the elections board, is running as an independent.

Without additional evidence to consider, the board chose to unanimously uphold its earlier decision, saying the ballot box will ultimately determine whether the nature of one's residency is a pressing campaign issue.

"We'll leave that up to the voters," said Rita Clark, chairman of the board. "They can make the choice about who is the best representative for their districts."

By knocking Mr. Kidd out of the race, margins in the crowded Sept. 11 primary election would have improved slightly for the remaining candidates. Toledo City Council President Rob Ludeman, a term-limited Republican, currently holds the District 2 seat.

The elections board also ruled yesterday that errors on candidate petitions submitted by Larry Kaczala do not preclude him from running for Toledo municipal judge.

Mr. Kaczala, the former Republican county auditor, mistakenly listed July 6, 2007, and Nov. 6, 2008, on two of his petitions as the dates of this year's general election.

The mistakes were not considered fatal, the board reasoned, since most voters know the general election occurs on the first Tuesday in November. And even Asher Fishman, who filed the complaint against Mr. Kaczala, did not know the exact day polls opened.

"Nov. 2, I want to say?" Mr. Fishman testified.

The general election is on Nov. 6, 2007.

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

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