The makeup of Toledo City Council shifted dramatically as one incumbent was ousted and the fate of another incumbent hangs in the balance and will not be decided for several days.
Two women also prevailed in the race for six at-large seats. There has not been a woman in an at-large council seat since Betty Shultz was forced out of her post by term limits in 2009.
Voters on Tuesday selected six council members out of a field of 12 candidates. Political veteran Theresa Gabriel and political rookie Sandy Spang were elected, increasing the number of women on council to four. They will join two other women who hold district seats, Democrats Paula Hicks Hudson, who is council president, and Lindsey Webb.
RELATED CONTENT: Full election results
Their election also represents a new wave of independent candidates on council. Both Ms. Gabriel and Ms. Spang are independents and ran without the backing of either of the two major political parties in Toledo.
Ms. Gabriel, of West Toledo, is a retired assistant chief of staff to former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and longtime city employee. Ms. Spang owns a South Toledo coffeehouse and numerous other commercial properties. She ran an aggressive campaign and was the third-highest vote-getter in this race. “I think that my message that the power of small business and the importance of neighborhoods resonated with the citizens of Toledo,” she said.
Incumbent Rob Ludeman, a Republican, received the highest number of votes and returns to council in a new role as an at-large member. Mr. Ludeman, of South Toledo, has served 14 years as a District 2 councilman. He encouraged Ms. Spang to run for council and said her pro-business platform and her gender helped her to win. “When I started on council it was half and half and then I saw the numbers dwindle down to two. I think this is a necessary addition,” he said.
The local Democratic Party seemed to hold little sway over voters as unendorsed Democratic candidate Jack Ford won handily. Mr. Ford returns to council after having previously served as Toledo’s mayor from 2002 through 2005 and most recently on the board of education. “I'm a known entity,” Mr. Ford said. “I think the new faces you have on council are going to want to work with the mayor [Collins] to help the city succeed,” he said.
Incumbent Democrat Steven Steel will also return to council. Mr. Steel, of the Old West End, was on the Toledo school board before being appointed and then elected to council in 2009.
Incumbent Democrat Adam Martinez is the apparent winner of the sixth and final spot, but there were only 39 votes separating him from unendorsed Democratic Larry Sykes.
“I am cautiously optimistic but I will not declare victory until it is official,” Mr. Martinez said.
Mr. Sykes said about 500 provisional ballots will be counted in about 10 days so the outcome could change. “We ran unendorsed with no labor support, so my team did quite well,” Mr. Sykes said.
Incumbent Shaun Enright came up short and will not return to council. Mr. Enright, an endorsed Democratic and union backed candidate, was appointed to the council in January,
The two at-large incumbents not running were Joe McNamara, a Democrat who did not seek re-election and instead ran for Toledo mayor in the September primary, and Republican George Sarantou, who was barred from running for council because of term limits and ran unsuccessfully last year for Lucas County recorder.
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