A Republican candidate running in Toledo City Council District 2 on Monday turned up the heat on incumbent Councilman D. Michael Collins over the continued lack of development at Southwyck Shopping Center.
Jeremy Demagall criticized Mr. Collins, a political independent, for supporting an anti-panhandling ordinance and failing to get the former South Toledo shopping center developed.
“There are already laws on the books that can be used to deal with people who loiter, harass, or assault Toledoans. There is no need for pointless laws to be written just to gain a few headlines,” Mr. Demagall said, while standing outside the razed shopping center site.
“It is well known that Mr. Collins has sat on the sidelines and done nothing of note to bring a major developer to Toledo for this project, a rebirth of Southwyck,” Mr. Demagall said. He vowed that if he is elected he would not seek re-election in four years if he has failed to find a developer.
Mr. Collins responded Monday that he is in frequent contact with the out-of-state owners’ representative to urge development, but he said that, unlike the Marina District and the Docks, the city cannot sell the property or impose a development on the former mall.
“I appreciate my opponent’s concerns about that issue, but if he reflects upon my record he will see I have consistently maintained that there is no issue facing the city of Toledo today that is more important than Southwyck,” Mr. Collins said. He said he is currently in discussions with a potential investor.
Mr. Collins said he is handling the panhandling ordinance because he is chair of the public safety, law, and criminal justice committee. The new law, which is up for a possible vote Tuesday, is being proposed by the Bell administration to replace an ordinance that has not been enforced since 2008 because it was believed to be unconstitutional. Mr. Collins said a hearing was held and no one claimed that the legislation is unnecessary.
Mr. Demagall is the former deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections who was fired by the Ohio Secretary of State in March for allowing 114 illegal provisional votes to be counted in the November, 2010 election. Mr. Demagall said Monday that he helped cut costs during his two and a half years on the board. He claimed there was a difference of opinion in the Secretary of State’s office as to whether the provisional ballots were to be counted.
Mr. Demagall, Mr. Collins, and a third candidate, Republican Steven Jasinski, face off in a primary election Sept. 13, with the two top vote-getters moving on to the general election in November.