Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada faces two potential Republican opponents in her quest for re-election, but first she has to contend with a challenge from a fellow Democrat, Spencer Township Trustee Michael Hood, who was certified as a candidate last week.
Mr. Hood, 56, of Holland has been a trustee in the quiet western Lucas County enclave of Spencer Township for most of the last 29 years.
He contends that Spencer has lost ground in the last 30 years, most recently with a township vote ending TARTA bus service.
And he objects to the acquisition of township land by Metroparks of the Toledo Area to expand the Oak Openings Regions holdings.
“The Metroparks are buying up everything they can get their hands on,” Mr. Hood said. “Hundreds of acres. I’m watching the township disappear. They purchase the property with taxpayer money, and then they take it off the tax rolls.” He said Spencer Township trustees were not consulted.
Mr. Hood said he believes the expansion of the Metroparks system and the end of bus service are just the latest setbacks in the township that has included the closure of the high school in 1980, the fire department in 1984, and more recently a youth center.
According to Mr. Hood, Mrs. Contrada didn’t speak up in opposition to the issue on the ballot Nov. 5 to end the township’s support of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. Nor did she attend a rally to support TARTA, while Commissioner Tina Wozniak did attend. Spencer residents voted 269-255 for the end of bus service.
“We had a TARTA bus in this community for 42 years. She never came out and made a statement one way or the other regarding her position about TARTA,” he said. “No disrespect to Ms. Contrada, but it seems to me a lack of leadership.”
Mrs. Contrada said Mr. Hood has it all wrong. She said she had a conflict the day of the rally, but the commissioners passed a resolution supporting TARTA service and that she has “supported their efforts in many, many other ways.”
“The commissioners passed a resolution urging Spencer Township not to withdraw from TARTA. We need to have a regional transportation system,” Mrs. Contrada said.
She said the commissioners have spent $236,000 since 2009 to maintain the Spencer Township Community Center.
And she said the sale of land in the West Winds industrial park doesn’t hurt its potential for economic development. West Winds, which hosts Johnson Controls, maker of car batteries, is off South Eber Road, north of Airport Highway.
“Not all the property there is developable. There has been no diminution in the value. We think there are two companies that are likely to locate there,” Mrs. Contrada said.
Metroparks has purchased 240.6 acres from West Winds for $1,370,927 since 2003, with $439,387 of that money from Clean Ohio Fund grants. The properties are in the Oak Openings Region and “feature some truly remarkable natural features including high-quality wetlands, mature forests, and endangered species,” said Tim Schetter, natural resources director for the Metroparks.
“The commissioners have been highly supportive of the Spencer Township trustees’ effort to maintain services to their citizens,” Mrs. Contrada said.
Mrs. Contrada, 62, a former Sylvania Township trustee who was elected commissioner in 2010, was certified for the May 6 Democratic primary ballot. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face the winner of the Republican nomination Nov. 4.
Two have filed for the GOP nomination — former Sylvania Township Trustee Kevin Haddad and former Lucas County Director of Elections Ben Roberts.
While Mr. Hood has his differences with county officials over treatment of Spencer Township, he plans to campaign on an issue that will resonate with voters in Toledo perhaps more than in his rural, western Lucas County township.
“One of the things I think needs to be addressed is the high-unemployment rate in the city of Toledo as it relates to the African-American community,” said Mr. Hood, who is African-American.
“The thing that concerns me is level of violence in the city of Toledo. It’s not even a topic of conversation in most political circles. Those are things I plan to bring out and bring to the forefront and challenge people to deal with,” Mr. Hood said.
The city of Toledo is in charge of public safety and administers justice at the misdemeanor level through Toledo Municipal Court. However, the county is responsible for the sheriff’s department and the court system and for administering state services concerning employment and social services.
Mr. Hood said he and several partners are starting a business cleaning and maintaining fish tanks. He said he has an associate’s degree in business from the University of Toledo.
He grew up in Swanton and now lives in Holland. He attended the now-defunct Spencer-Sharples High School in that now-defunct district. Children in Spencer Township now go to Toledo Public Schools.
He was first elected in 1985 and was defeated for re-election in 1989. Mr. Hood returned to win in 1993, 1997, and 2001, and was defeated again in 2005. He was elected in 2009 and 2013.
“I have always run opposed,” said Mr. Hood, who admits that he still may be in for some political education.
“I’ve been swimming in a smaller pond and now getting out into a big lake,” said the professional aquarium technician. “I understand that.”
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.