Months of campaigns and commercials, debates and forums, handshakes and hot tempers culminate Tuesday when voters cast ballots across Ohio and Michigan.
Oh, didn’t you hear? There’s an election just a day away.
Polls open at 6:30 a.m. in Ohio and 7 a.m. in Michigan for the early birds, and stay open until 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, for those who want to rush in after work or forgot to vote until they saw all those “I voted” stickers.
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COMMENTARY: Toledo mayoral race: The Choice
In Ohio, employers can’t fire you for “taking a reasonable amount of time to vote on Election Day.” Michigan has no such law.
The biggest local race is for Toledo mayor, with incumbent Mike Bell up against challenger D. Michael Collins, a city councilman.Both men are political independents, both are named Mike, and both seemed to develop a healthy amount of dislike for each other during the campaign.
The two candidates found themselves facing off after the primary election knocked out the two Democrats, a result that’s led to turmoil within the party.
Both Mr. Bell and Mr. Collins have strong public service backgrounds, with Mr. Bell a former fire chief, and Mr. Collins, a former police detective. The men have disagreed on just about everything during the campaign, from policing strategies to how big the budget deficit was that Mr. Bell faced in 2010.
Though the men hold no political labels, Mr. Bell has developed alliances with the business community for both his push to bring foreign investment to Toledo and his perceived business-friendly policies, as well as the bond he formed with Republican Gov. John Kasich, in part from his support for Issue 2, a ballot question that was rejected by voters because it would have undermined collective-bargaining rights for public employee unions.
Mr. Collins, meanwhile, has garnered major support from nearly every union in the area and has outlined an approach to develop a more union-friendly relationship if elected. Labor might dislike Mr. Bell as much as it supports Mr. Collins, in large part because of Mr. Bell’s “exigent circumstances” ordinance in 2010 that gave him the power to impose cuts on city union pay and benefits.
Overshadowed by the mayoral race has been the competition for city council, which has incumbents trying to hold onto seats, former city leaders pushing for a comeback, Democrats and Republicans running as independents, internal party fighting, and more.
Six at-large seats are open, with 12 candidates.
The incumbents are Democrats Shaun Enright, Adam Martinez, and Steven Steel, and Republican Rob Ludeman.
The challengers are former Mayor Jack Ford and Toledo Public Schools board member Larry Sykes, both Democrats running without endorsements (Mr. Ford chose not to seek one); independents Theresa Gabriel, a retired assistant chief of staff to former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner; Sandy Spang, a business owner, and former bar owner Bill Delaney; Republicans James Nowak and Joseph Celusta, and Green Party candidate Sean Nestor.
Mr. Martinez, an endorsed Democrat, is opposed by unions and endorsed Mr. Bell, drawing the wrath of the state party and local unions.
Council and mayoral races, namely those in Oregon and Perrysburg, abound in the suburbs as well.
An open seat on the Toledo Municipal Court has drawn three candidates: Democrat Gretchen DeBacker and Republicans Joshua Lanzinger and Kenneth Phillips. Democrat Vallie Bowman-English, clerk of courts, faces a challenge by Republican Constantine Stamos.
Three seats are open for the Toledo Board of Education, with eight candidates vying for those spots. Incumbent Bob Vasquez is joined by challengers Chris Varwig, Polly Taylor-Gerken, Aji Green, Tina Henold, the Rev. Randall Parker III, Perry Lefevre, and Darryl Fingers. A slew of suburban school districts, including Sylvania and Washington Local, also have school board races, with varying degrees of competition.
Just as important for Toledo Public Schools is a 6.5-mill, five-year renewal levy on the ballot. The operating levy provides more than $13 million annually.
The Toledo school district isn’t the only local one asking for voters to approve funding. The Rossford district has a 37-year, 4.6-mill bond on the ballot that would pay to replace Indian Hills and Eagle Point elementary schools. The bond would raise about $32 million if approved.
Northwood voters will decide on a continuing combined 4.9-mill property tax/0.25 earned income tax for new-school construction. Those taxes would pay for a new prekindergarten-through-12th-grade school that would cost about $33 million, with the state covering about a third of the cost.
Levies also will be decided in area districts including Springfield, Ottawa Hills, and Anthony Wayne, along with regional schools including Benton-Carroll-Salem, Woodmore, Eastwood, Elmwood, and Napoleon.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s 0.4-mill, five-year levy is up for renewal. And the Lucas County Development Disabilities Board is seeking to replace existing levies of 0.3 and 0.5 mills based on property values from decades ago with a 1-mill levy that would increase revenue for the board by nearly 80 percent compared to the existing levies.
Area ballot issues aren’t limited to levies. In Bowling Green, residents will vote on a ballot initiative brought by opponents to hydraulic fracturing of shale bedrock; the initiative would give residents rights to clean air, land, and water.
Meanwhile, Defiance voters will decide on whether to urge a constitutional amendment that declares only people, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights. The ballot initiative also pushes for language that says money is not equivalent to speech.
They might not be to the scale of the Mike vs. Mike battle, but area Michigan voters have their own mayoral elections to decide.
In Adrian, incumbent Greg DuMars, who was elected in 2011 and previously served as a city commissioner, is challenged by Jim Berryman, a former Adrian mayor who also served in the state Legislature. The two have debated how to use oil royalty revenue from city-owned property.
Adrian voters also will select three new commissioners from a field of six, and decide on whether to approve a Headlee Amendment millage request, which would raise the property tax mill rate by 1.3707 to its original 15 mills. The Headlee Amendment, approved by voters statewide in 1978, limits tax hikes without voter approval; it also cuts taxes when the base outstrips inflation.
In Monroe, incumbent Robert Clark is challenged by Clerk-Treasurer Charles Evans. There’s a four-way race to fill the clerk-treasurer post, and for five of six precinct city council seats, incumbents face challenger
Residents in Luna Pier can vote for candidates running for three open council seats, and Lenawee County voters in Hudson, Morenci, and Tecumseh will vote on council races, while Morenci has a mayoral race.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.