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Published: Thursday, 6/11/2009

Wilkowski promises women s commission

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Toledo mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski, one of the Democrats competing in the Sept. 15 primary, speaks to Diane Gordon, left, and Twyla Wheaton at MMK Gallery on North St. Clair Street, where he announced plans yesterday to address women s issues. He vowed that women would hold key  positions at every level of city government if he is elected. Toledo mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski, one of the Democrats competing in the Sept. 15 primary, speaks to Diane Gordon, left, and Twyla Wheaton at MMK Gallery on North St. Clair Street, where he announced plans yesterday to address women s issues. He vowed that women would hold key positions at every level of city government if he is elected.
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If he s elected mayor, Keith Wilkowski would form a Commission on Women s Issues that might study, among other things, disparity in the pay women and men receive, he said yesterday.

Mr. Wilkowski announced his plans to address women s issues at the MMK Gallery on North St. Clair Street, which is half-owned by two women.

A Democrat, Mr. Wilkowski is one of four major candidates running in the Sept. 15 primary to succeed current Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who has not ruled out seeking a fourth term.

He said women and girls face unique issues, including fair employment practices, poverty, and domestic violence.

Mr. Wilkowski also noted the problem of teen prostitution and Lucas County s historically high rate of teen pregnancy.

He said 9,000 more women than men live in poverty in Toledo, and women are three times more likely than men to be the single head of a household with children.

For all our efforts, equal pay remains an aspiration and not yet a realized goal, with women earning on average 22 percent less than their male counterparts in Ohio, Mr. Wilkowski said.

Mr. Wilkowski said he didn t know if there is pay disparity in city government.

Asked if he would tackle pay disparity in the private sector, he said he d wait until getting recommendations from the commission.

Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who has led efforts to investigate domestic abuse in Lucas County, said she welcomed the initiative.

Also supporting the commission was Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates.

In the county we have often felt that what we were lacking was the leadership from the city to pull together to make women s issues finally be heard, recognized, and accomplished, and solve our problems, said Ms. Wozniak, a former city councilman.

Mr. Wilkowski said women would hold key decision-making positions at every level of city government.

Toledo has a proud history of strong women in leadership positions.

But as I look out on our city s landscape, it seems that women s voices and women s concerns have receded, he said.

Mayor Finkbeiner said women, including his wife, Amy, are among his major advisers, and that he hires the best person for the job, period.

I am proud of the many women we have in key positions and will let my record speak for itself, Mr. Finkbeiner said, calling the criticism self-serving.

Mr. Wilkowski said the commission probably would not cost any money, and he called for an annual summit with policy proposals.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.comor 419-724-6058.



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