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Published: Tuesday, 4/6/2010

GOP commissioner hopefuls argue over benefits of arenas

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The three Republican contenders to become a Lucas County commissioner each touted their conservative credentials Monday night - agreeing on a majority of tough questions during a debate in Sylvania.

Candidates Andy Glenn, Dan Steingraber, and George Sarantou each opened the 90-minute debate at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Sylvania Branch with a series of extremely similar answers in response to the first several questions. They each promised to help create jobs, encourage economic development, cut taxes, and slash red tape hindering business growth.

Mr. Sarantou, a Toledo councilman, came under attack several times from his opponents for his decision to vote in favor of increasing the city monthly trash fee to $15.

"We faced the layoff of 125 police officers and that would have been devastating," Mr. Sarantou said. "I had to do what was right, and Mayor Bell, at my questioning, agreed to reduce the fee for seniors if Issue 5 passes in May."

Current Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election.

Mr. Sarantou, who has been on council for nine years, Mr. Glenn, a member of the Springfield Township Board of Trustees, and Mr. Steingraber, an Oregon real estate appraiser, will face off during the May 4 primary.

One of the few questions the three Republicans differed on was the benefit to the city or county of stadiums and arenas.

Mr. Sarantou was alone is his belief that those facilities "are economic development."

Mr. Steingraber disagreed and Mr. Glenn went a step forward and advocated against any governmental involvement in those endeavors.

Mr. Glenn also suggested Lucas County move its offices out of One Government Center to save on rent costs and dismantle its recycling program because it is not generating money.

Late in the 90-minute debate, Mr. Steingraber attacked Mr. Sarantou for voting in favor of the 2009 city of Toledo budget submitted by then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

Mr. Steingraber used a vulgarity to describe the budget's assumption for income taxes of about $169.7 million, which proved to be well above the $141.3 million collected from the 2.25 percent payroll tax in 2009.

Mr. Sarantou struck back - asking Mr. Steingraber what planet he had been on. He said that budget estimate was made in November, 2008, and that no one could have predicted the steep drop in income taxes.

Democrats vying for Mr. Konop's seat are Art Jones, a former Toledo city councilman, Ben Krompak, a Toledoan whos is a communications consultant, Earl Murry, retired University of Toledo professor, of Maumee, Michael Zychowicz, lawyer, of Sylvania Township, Tim Porter, retired health administrator, of Sylvania Township, and Carol Contrada, lawyer and member of the Sylvania Township Board of Trustees.

The winners of the primary election will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, and the winner of that election will join Democrats Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak on the three-member board.



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