Republican Joseph Celusta, the grandson of a Toledo mayor from the 1950s, announced his candidacy for Toledo City Council on Thursday, while appointed Councilman Matt Cherry filed petitions to run in an attempt to retain the seat.
The developments set up the probability of a special election on May 6 that will have four candidates vying for the District 2 seat vacated by D. Michael Collins after he was sworn in as mayor on Jan. 2.
In addition to Mr. Cherry, who had previously announced his intent to run, other announced candidates are an independent, Marcia Helman, 63, owner of the Lickity Split ice cream parlor, a Walbridge Park board member, and former city arts liaison, and Bob Vasquez, 61, a Democratic member of the Toledo Board of Education, director of a nonprofit social agency, and member of the Toledo Zoo board.
Ms. Helman has been certified for the ballot.
The Lucas County Board of Elections is to meet at 10 a.m. today to consider certifying Mr. Cherry, Mr. Vasquez, and Mr. Celusta.
Mr. Celusta, 50, of 4472 River Rd. a former business executive, invoked his grandfather, the late Aloysius “Ollie” Czelusta, as he made his announcement in front of the shuttered former Clarion Hotel in South Toledo.
“I plan to use my experience in upper management at True North Energy and know-how as a former small business owner to make Toledo a better place not just for bureaucrats and politicians, but the citizens and over-regulated businesses that reside in the city,” Mr. Celusta said.
He said he left his job when the company relocated to the Cleveland area several years ago.
“Toledo has [gone] from one of the largest cities in the world with a bright future to a city in need of help because of decades of poor leadership since my grandfather’s administration in the 1950s,” Mr. Celusta said.
Ollie Czelusta, a Republican, was mayor from 1950-51 and 1954-57.
He died in 1981. The “z” was omitted from Mr. Celusta’s father’s and his aunt’s names by his grandmother on their birth certificates, Mr. Celusta said.
Mr. Celusta said he chose to make his announcement at the Clarion, which is slated to be demolished after several years of neglect, because “it’s basically the landscape of the entire city.”
Mr. Celusta ran unsuccessfully for a city council at-large seat in 2013, earning a spot on the general election ballot in the primary, but finishing 12th in the contest for six seats.
He said he has a small landscaping business and is working on getting a real estate development license.
Mr. Cherry, 33, filed his signature petitions Thursday.
An elected business agent of Sheet Metal Workers Local 33, Mr. Cherry was appointed to the seat in January after being endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party.
He was accompanied by his wife, Nicole, their 3-year-old son, MJ, Mr. Cherry’s mother, Kathy Riker, a retired city police officer, and his mother-in-law, Deb McClellan.
“We face many challenges in District 2, from fixing our streets to keeping local businesses strong and residents employed. My job is to make sure my fellow District 2 citizens’ voices are heard at Government Center,” he said. “As a son of a retired Toledo policewoman, I understand that safety is a top priority in our neighborhoods.”
He said he is “hoping to keep the ball rolling on the Reynolds Road corridor” by encouraging investors to look at the former Southwyck Shopping Center site and other locations.
He said his volunteer activities have included Habitat for Humanity, the James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship restoration, and a golf outing benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Juvenile Diabetes.
Early voting begins Tuesday at 1946 N. 13th St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until May 2, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on April 7, and 8 a.m. to noon on May 3.