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Democratic candidate for mayor Joe McNamara today attacked his Democratic opponent, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, for hiring people with political and labor connections in the auditor's office that violate a pledge she made in 2006.
He cited the pledge Ms. Lopez signed in 2006 when running against Republican incumbent Larry Kaczala that she would not hire anyone based on “who they are related to, contribute money to, or are friends with.”
"She's hired people based on who they're related to and used the auditor's office to run her campaigns. This is wrong and we need a mayor that's going to hire people based on merit and ability," Mr. McNamara said. He said she's turned the auditor's office into "a modern-day Tammany Hall," a reference to a notoriously corrupt New York political machine of the 19th century.
Mr. McNamara named four of the approximately 95 people in Ms. Lopez's office as hires who have important political connections:
- Chief of Staff Abby Arnold, who is the the daughter of John Irish – a current member of the Lucas County Board of elections and former chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party.
- Director of Education and Outreach Angela Carlozzi, the stepdaughter of Dennis Duffey – current secretary/treasurer of the Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council, former chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Central Committee, former county treasurer, and former business manager of IBEW Local 8, a union that is backing Ms. Lopez's campaign for mayor.
- Executive Assistant William Benner, former regional field director of the campaign to defeat Issue 2 in 2011, and son of the late William Benner, a business agent for IBEW Local 8. Mr. Benner is on leave to manage Ms. Lopez's mayoral campaign.
- Assistant Director of Education and Outreach Elgin Rogers, current president of the African American Leadership Caucus and the campaign manager of City Councilman Tyrone Riley's election campaign.
Mr. McNamara said the appointments were made to solidify her connections with labor and political officials, and with the city's African-American community, are unethical, rather than based on their qualifications to do the technical, real estate, and legal work of the auditor's office.
Mr. McNamara also criticized Ms. Lopez's awarding of pay raises and promotions to people who have volunteered for or contributed to her campaign, as reported in The Blade Sunday. He lumped Mayor Mike Bell with Ms. Lopez, saying the mayor also uses political appointees to help on his campaign and contribute money to his campaign account.
Ms. Lopez declined through her campaign spokesman to respond directly to Mr. McNamara's criticism.
"Anita’s worked hard to retain intelligent people who are willing to work hard for taxpayers here in Toledo to fight the brain drain. And to say that political connections is why they got the job is an insult to their hard work," said Diane May, campaign communications director.
She said Ms. Lopez didn't violate her own pledge because "she hired qualified individuals."
Ms. Lopez has accused Mr. McNamara of "using cheap and desperate ploys to get attention."
Toledo has a nonpartisan primary on Sept. 10, but Ms. Lopez and Mr. McNamara are battling informally for the backing of Democrats in Toledo who make up the biggest block of voters.
Also running are independent candidates Mayor Bell, City Councilman D. Michael Collins, and city employee Alan Cox; unendorsed Republican Opal Covey, who is listed in county election records as a Democrat, and endorsed Libertarian Michael Konwinski.