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Toledo mayor candidate Anita Lopez today defended her level of personal debt as normal for a person raising a family, paying off college debt, and trying to take care in her home of two parents.
"I think it's even more important for me to take care of my parents. My parents were migrant workers who instilled in me work ethics. I've been honored that, as the Old South End has been deteriorating and my father's health has been deteriorating, I made the decision to move them in and to reconstruct my home so it was handicapped accessible for my father," Ms. Lopez said, standing in front of her two story house on Belvedere Drive in South Toledo.
She said the improvements cost $23,000.
Ms. Lopez, currently the elected Lucas County auditor, released her tax returns and credit report last week in response to a request from The Blade. Ms. Lopez had the lowest credit score and the highest debt among the major candidates running for the city's top office this year, and she was the only one whose seven-year credit report showed repeated late bill-paying.
Ms. Lopez, a Democrat, made her finances public Thursday, three days after Councilman D. Michael Collins and Mayor Mike Bell and a day after Democratic Councilman Joe McNamara released recent credit scores, credit reports, and tax returns.
Her credit score was 635 according to Equifax credit-reporting companies. Ms. Lopez’s credit report said she has up to 13 “open accounts,” 11 of which have balances totaling $261,432.
Ms. Lopez said her personal debt is not an indication that she would run up the city's debt.
"As auditor we've had to do more with less. I think I've proven I can do more with less, as auditor, as mother, as caring for my parents," Ms. Lopez said. "It's a normal level of debt. I'm still very credit-worthy."
Ms. Lopez, a divorced mother of two grade-school-age sons, said she is better able to Toledoans' struggles than her three main opponents, none of whom have children at home.
"My [credit] score does not relate to how I personally have run the auditor’s office or how I would run the mayor’s office. If it did matter, why is the city of Toledo in the state it’s in, because Mike Bell, Mike Collins, and Joe McNamara all have excellent credit ratings and the city is struggling and they’re the leaders of this community. Maybe they’ve taken care of themselves but I’m not sure they’ve taken care of the rest of the city."