Fresh from his party's endorsement, Republican Jan Scotland yesterday officially launched his campaign for Lucas County commissioner with a call for smaller county government and new approaches to economic development.
Mr. Scotland, 52, will face off against Democratic incumbent Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who has served on the three-person board since 2002.
The former GOP-endorsed candidate in the race, Joe Pellman, a 21-year-old political science major at the University of Toledo, withdrew his bid.
Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook described Mr. Pellman as a "placeholder" in the November contest until a serious candidate could be found.
The party's executive committee voted Wednesday night to endorse Mr. Scotland.
The owner of a State Farm insurance agency on Dorr Street and a former purchasing supervisor at Owens Corning, Mr. Scotland came to Toledo in 1981 and last held a seat in politics in 1987.
He was appointed in January of that year to replace Linda Furney on Toledo City Council following her election to the Ohio Senate.
He served on council for nearly 10 months before losing in the fall election to Democrat Jack Ford, who outpaced Mr. Scotland again in the 1994 race for state House of Representatives.
"It was not an easy decision to re-enter politics after such a long absence," Mr. Scotland said yesterday morning in the lobby of Government Center. "I see Lucas County in difficult and perplexing times. I see challenges we face in our communities but I see opportunities too."
One challenge he said he's eager for is cutting the size of government. Mr. Scotland lamented how the county's budget has outpaced inflation, even as population declines.
He singled out the county's elections board, dog warden's office, and Juvenile Detention Center as being particularly bloated with staff.
"County government is one of the fastest-growing employers in Lucas County and represents one of the only true bright spots in its own economic development plan," he said.
Ms. Wozniak, 53, disagreed that she and the other two Democratic commissioners allow spending to soar.
She emphasized how the size of the county's general fund reserve - money left over once the bills are paid - grew during her tenure, to $28.1 million at the end of last year from $25 million in 2003, according to county figures.
"We are making smart moves," she said. "The bottom line is that we have been aggressively taking steps to downsize county government."
Ms. Wozniak said she has had cordial relations with Mr. Scotland for years, and called on him to run a clean campaign without negative attacks.
The other commissioner up for re-election, Democrat Peter Gerken, will have no Republican opposition this November because no candidate filed by the January deadline.
Mr. Scotland said he would like to combine or eliminate certain economic development programs, possibly the hotly debated Lucas County Improvement Corp.
"I am not convinced that LCIC is effective," he said.
The LCIC issue has split the three Democratic commissioners, with Ms. Wozniak and Mr. Gerken opposing efforts by Ben Konop to dissolve the agency.
Mr. Scotland was born in New York, the son of a Harlem Methodist minister who immigrated from Guyana.
Mr. Scotland's wife and two grown children stood by his side yesterday and were joined by other family and friends, including Perlean Griffin, the city of Toledo's former director of affirmative action-contract compliance.
Contact JC Reindl at:
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