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Published: Sunday, 11/4/2012

5 competing for Lucas County commissioner seats

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two incumbent Democratic Lucas County commissioners, Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, are seeking re-election on Tuesday to their third terms in office.

Mr. Gerken's opponent is Republican John Marshall, a retiree, Air Force veteran, and former small-business owner. Mr. Marshall briefly worked as a supervisor at Jeep during a time when Mr. Gerken was a union steward at the plant. 

The other contest is a three-way race between Ms. Wozniak and Republican challengers Brent McCormack and Sylvania Township Trustee Kevin Haddad, who is running with no party affiliation.

READ MORE: The Blade 2012 Voters Guide

Mr. Gerken, 60, said that in the last four years, he has worked to balance the county's budget, using reserve funds only sparingly, worked with county employees to settle union contracts, and downsized county government while maintaining services. He also cites the Huntington Center, the downtown arena the county built, as a highlight of his tenure during the last four years.

"We're doing more with less, just like most folks in Lucas County do," he said.

Mr. Marshall, 59, said he will focus on bringing jobs to the county.

"My main goal is jobs, number one, period. I will set up a jobs task force," he said.

Mr. Marshall believes Lucas County manufacturing can benefit from the shale gas boom in eastern Ohio. "I would be more aggressive [in pursuing jobs]. I'm very in tune with the changing of industries."

In the other race for commissioner, Ms. Wozniak, 57, also cites balancing the county's budget as a key accomplishment.

"We've right-sized county government to the tune of $25 million," she said. She holds up the merger of the Lucas County Job and Family Services agency with the Lucas County Child Support Enforcement Agency as an example of saving taxpayer dollars while improving services.

Ms. Wozniak also points to the county's efforts in foreclosure prevention and the creation of a magistrate to aid homeowners facing foreclosure as an important accomplishment. Ms. Wozniak said the college coach program, which works with the families of elementary school students to emphasize the importance of a college education, is a key element of the county's economic and work-force development.

"If we don't start early, if our citizens don't have an opportunity to learn about post-secondary education at an early age, we might not have a ready work force," she said.

Mr. Haddad, 57, said his three years as a Sylvania Township trustee have prepared him for the role of commissioner.

"Trustee is the same job, it's just at a different level. And being president of the township association, I help out all the townships now," Mr. Haddad said.

If elected, Mr. Haddad said he also would continue to serve in his role as township trustee until the end of his term in December 2013.

An opinion from the Ohio Attorney General's office earlier this year stated holding both the positions of county commissioner and township trustee simultaneously are "incompatible."

Mr. Haddad, a frequent and vocal critic of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority and its director, James Gee, said that as a commissioner, he would propose a regionalization measures for greater savings. One plan would include a public employee health-care plan of all public entities in the county including cities, schools, townships, TARTA, and the Toledo Zoo.

"I'm going to make sure we work hard to use every resource in the most cost-effective way possible," he said.

Mr. McCormack, the Republican candidate in the race, could not be reached.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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