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Auditor cites union backing

Candidate pledges to unveil economic development plan


Anita Lopez speaks to sisters Marly Downing, 7, left, and Marissa Downing, 8, before filing her petitions to run for mayor at the Lucas County Board of Elections.

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Democratic Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez filed her petitions to run for mayor of Toledo on Wednesday, promising supporters a plan for creating jobs.

Before going into the Lucas County Board of Elections office to file her petitions, Ms. Lopez met outside Government Center with about 30 labor union backers and leaders, including from the Northwestern Ohio Council of Building and Construction Trades, Teamsters Local 20, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Ms. Lopez is one of seven people expected to file signature petitions this week to be on the Sept. 10 primary ballot for mayor.

She said she would roll out parts of her economic development plan weekly over the next nine weeks, and promised her supporters an emphasis on new jobs.

“We need jobs in this community. A community without a future of employment is not a future,” Ms. Lopez said. “We want working family wages. As mayor I will have an economic plan that is not just talk but action."

She said her economic development efforts would not be undermined by her pro-union stance, and said people should hold the elected official, not the unions, accountable.

Ms. Lopez noted she has run an office with union employees since 2007 as auditor, and said she would be Toledo's first strong mayor to have been responsible for a unionized government office with its own budget prior to becoming mayor.

“We have been able to lead a union work force to be very productive, very responsive, and we've cut the fat out of government. We know in this day and age you have to want to work. We've set that standard,” Ms. Lopez said.

Mayor Mike Bell was fire chief for 16 years, heading a department with four collective bargaining units, and as Ohio state fire marshal from 2007 to 2009 he managed a department with two collective bargaining units. However, union negotiations were directed by the mayor and the governor, respectively.

“As Toledo’s current mayor he is responsible for the fourth largest city in the state with an annual budget in excess of $500 million across all funds and nearly 2,600 employees across nine collective bargaining units,” Bell spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said.

Many of the unions that are backing Ms. Lopez for mayor supported Mr. Bell in 2009, but became disenchanted over several issues, including his sale of the Marina District to Chinese investors without requiring union involvement in the development, privatizing city trash collection, forcing concessions in city union wages and benefits in 2010 to avert a deficit, and supporting Issue 2 in 2012, a failed Republican effort to cut public union bargaining rights.

In addition to Ms. Lopez, independent Councilman D. Michael Collins has filed, and petitions are expected from Mayor Bell, an independent; Councilman Joe McNamara, a Democrat; Alan Cox, an independent; Opal Covey, a Republican, and Michael Konwinski, a Libertarian.

Also filing his petitions Wednesday was Republican Ron Johns of South Toledo for an at-large council seat. Mr. Johns, 21, is a University of Toledo student.

Other candidates who have filed for council are independents Sandy Spang and Theresa Gabriel; Republicans Ernest McCarthy and Alfonso Narvaez; incumbent Democrats Steve Steel and Shaun Enright, and Green candidate Sean Nestor.

Contact Tom Troy at: or 419-724-6058.

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