THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Democratic candidate for mayor Joe McNamara on Tuesday renewed his political attack on the ethics of his Democratic opponent Anita Lopez, the Lucas County auditor, accusing her of violating a pledge she made in 2006 not to hire people based on family or political connections.
Standing outside the Lucas County Courthouse, Mr. McNamara named four people that he said appeared to have been hired on the taxpayers’ dime in the auditor’s office for political reasons, rather than for their qualifications at auditor work.
He cited a 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.
A spokesman for Ms. Lopez denied that anyone was hired for political or family reasons.
The four people identified by Mr. McNamara out of the approximately 95 people in Ms. Lopez’s office as hires who have important political connections were:
Mr. McNamara said the appointments were made to solidify her connections with labor and political constituencies, and with the city’s African-American community.
He 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 on Sunday. He claimed the activity is unethical, though he made no charge of illegality and has made no complaints to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
A spokesman for Ms. Lopez rejected the 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.
Mr. McNamara’s criticism brought a stinging rebuke from Mike Gillis, spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO, a consortium of labor unions that is backing Ms. Lopez.
“When he says the only reason these people are hired is because of their labor experience, he diminishes that experience,” Mr. Gillis said. “He has no proof for any of those things, other than blind speculation.”
He said it was hypocritical of Mr. McNamara to accuse people of benefiting from family political connections when he likely gained a political leg up from the reputation of his late father, Dan McNamara, who was a Republican city councilman and auditor before he died in 1983.
In January, Mr. McNamara infuriated some labor leaders when he refused to support the appointment of IBEW Local 8 organizer Shaun Enright for a vacancy appointment to city council. Mr. Duffey said Mr. McNamara should be “tarred and feathered” or “de-nutted” for failing to support the Lucas County Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for the council vacancy.
McNamara spokesman Andrew Grunwald said Mr. Gillis’ remarks are “an attempt to change the subject from a campaign that’s struggling with its own scandals.” He said he believes Mr. McNamara and labor will close ranks after the September primary to defeat Mayor Mike Bell, an independent.
Also running are independents 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.
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