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Published: Tuesday, 6/18/2013

McNamara questions Lopez's campaign ethics

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara on Monday renewed his request to fellow Democrat Anita Lopez, the Lucas County Auditor, to debate him one-on-one, with the added accusation that she won't face him because she fears questions about her ethics.

Mr. McNamara alluded to The Blade's report Sunday that Ms. Lopez screens questions from the media and then responds with remarks crafted by her staff.

"Lopez needs questions submitted to her beforehand so her political handlers can write a script for her to answer questions," Mr. McNamara said. "She doesn't want to answer difficult questions about the ethical problems in this race. Lopez has been using the auditor's office to run her campaign for mayor."

Ms. Lopez again refused a one-one-one debate with Mr. McNamara, saying she would debate all of the candidates, not just the one other Democrat in the race. She said it was "disrespectful" to leave any of the candidates out because Toledo has nonpartisan elections.

"If he has solutions, he should present them. He doesn’t have to debate me to do that. His campaign is losing traction," Ms. Lopez said in a telephone interview late Monday.  She said she was calling from a park where her son was playing baseball and was not being fed comments by a campaign aide. "He is using cheap and desperate ploys to get attention," Ms. Lopez said.

Mr. McNamara said a debate between the two Democrats in the race "makes the Democratic challenger coming out of the debate stronger."

"The largest chunk of voters in Toledo are identified with the Democratic Party," he said.

The two highest vote-getters in the Sept. 10 primary will face off in November, regardless of party affiliation. It is possible that neither of the Democratic candidates will survive the primary election.

Ms. Lopez refused to respond to accusations that her campaign unethically uses the auditor's office staff to work on her campaign. In the past she has said her employees have a constitutional right to use their personal time to campaign for the candidate of their choice.

Mr. McNamara has been hitting Ms. Lopez since early April on the involvement of her paid auditor's staff in her campaign. He proposed a pledge that all candidates would sign vowing not to accept contributions or workday volunteer help from taxpayer-funded staff who work for them.

Other candidates are independent incumbent Mayor Bell, independent Councilman D. Michael Collins, Republican Opal Covey, independent city employee Alan Cox, Libertarian Michael Konwinski, and independent write-in candidate Don Gozdowski.

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



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