Vasquez to seek City Council seat vacated by mayor

Democrat has been on school board

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  • Vasquez

    Toledo Board of Education member Bob Vasquez will seek the South Toledo City Council seat vacated by D. Michael Collins when he became mayor.

    Mr. Vasquez will announce his candidacy for the District 2 seat at 2 p.m. today at Harvard Circle. He said he chose the site because nearby roads are in poor condition, and he would focus as a councilman on improving core services: police, fire, and road repair.

    “I’m kind of a basic services kind of guy,” Mr. Vasquez said.

    The special election to fill the seat is May 6, while the filing deadline for that election is March 27.

    Mr. Vasquez, 61, was appointed to the school board in 2008 and served as board president during parts of 2009 through the end of 2011. He is a licensed social worker and director of special projects at the Twelve of Ohio Inc., a statewide nonprofit child welfare and mental health agency.

    His office and home is in the Southwyck neighborhood. Originally from East Toledo, Mr. Vasquez has lived in District 2 for about 25 years.

    Mr. Vasquez said he is concerned about ongoing fund transfers from the city’s capital improvements plan budget to the general fund and wants to see a long-term plan to reduce dependency on the capital fund.

    While he said district councilmen need to represent the whole city, he wants to ensure his district gets a fair share of city spending.

    “I want to make sure that District 2 remains viable,” Mr. Vasquez said.

    He supports plans to raze the vacant, former Clarion Hotel on Reynolds Road, part of efforts to attract a new retailer to the Southwyck commercial district. But he said the city should focus on more than just the Reynolds Road corridor and not ignore the neighborhoods.

    When Mr. Vasquez chose to run for re-election on the school board last year instead of a bid for City Council, he said he wanted to stay on the board as changes he helped formulate were enacted. But the vacancy of his home district’s seat changed his mind.

    Mr. Vasquez would have to unseat Matt Cherry, a business agent for Sheet Metal Workers Local 33 who was appointed to the District 2 seat in January on recommendation from the Lucas County Democratic Party.

    Also seeking the seat is independent Marcia Helman, a business owner. She is backed by Republican at-large Councilman Rob Ludeman, who once held the District 2 seat that represents most of South Toledo.

    Lucas County GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook said Joseph Celusta, who unsuccessfully ran last year for a council seat, plans a run for the District 2 seat. Mr. Celusta is the grandson of the late Ollie Czelusta, who was mayor in the 1950s.

    Mr. Vasquez is a Democrat, but he does not plan to seek a political party’s endorsement. Though he was an endorsed Democrat in 2009, the party snubbed him last year during his re-election campaign. Mr. Vasquez drew union ire for his school board leadership during tense contract negotiations three years ago that extracted wage and benefit concessions from Toledo Public Schools employees.

    Despite the loss of party support, Mr. Vasquez retained his seat after he won the most votes among an eight-candidate field.

    Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.