The three candidates vying to complete the year as Toledo District 4 councilman all promise swift and effective action on a perceived recent escalation of crime in central Toledo and the Old West End.
Paula Hicks-Hudson, who was appointed to the seat in January, Alfonso Narvaez, and Terry Shankland are on the ballot to complete the unexpired term of Michael Ashford, who was elected to Ohio’s 48th House District seat. The term runs through December, and there will be a primary election in September if more than two candidates seek the new term starting in January.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson is a 59-year-old Democrat and lawyer who has worked as a Lucas County assistant prosecutor, legislative director for Toledo City Council, and chief legal counsel for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management through the end of the Strickland administration.
Her opponents are Mr. Shankland, 65, a Democrat who owns a catering business and has run several times for council but never won an election, and Mr. Narvaez, a 19-year-old Republican who is a student at Lourdes College in Sylvania.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson, who lives on Robinwood Avenue, organized a community meeting last week in her district in response to a growing feeling that crime and gang activity are rising. She said the election is about her ability to continue the work she started.
“There is a quality-of-life issue, and the crime is a part of it but is also about the delivery of city service to residents,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said. “We need to understand who is actually doing the crime. There is one thought that it’s just juveniles, but you also have young adults 18 to 25.”
Mr. Shankland of Islington Street said not enough is done to address crime and gangs.
“[On a recent night] at 2:30 a.m., a gang walked down the middle of the street screaming and yelling,” he said. “I called the police and that goes right next to a dog barking. We have a curfew in the city of Toledo that goes unenforced; we have a noise ordinance that is unenforced … and nobody downtown seems to understand, including the police and council, that we don’t start at a shooting and bank robberies.”
Mr. Shankland is one of Toledo’s perennial candidates. He has run for mayor and been on the ballot for both at-large and the District 4 council seats several times over the past two decades.
In 2005, he said that year’s race for one of six at-large council seats would be his last. But Mr. Shankland, known for his fondness for hats and colorful statements, couldn’t resist the call to seek an elected city office and entered several more races.
Mr. Narvaez of Ontario Street said residents of the district are frustrated with the crime.
“The reason I am running is simple: With the amount of violence in my neighborhood, it is time for someone to step up and give his attention,” he said. “It’s disturbing to have something like that and nothing be done. There were two shootings and three structure fires within a two-block radius in December and January. There is a continuous occurrence of violence … and the residents I talk to are frustrated.”
District 4 voters have traditionally elected a Democratic councilman, but Mr. Narvaez said he is unconcerned about political parties or age. “I am going to give better representation for these residents,” he said. “It’s a matter of thinking outside the box.”
District 4 includes downtown, the Old West End, and parts of north and central Toledo.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.