This week’s primary contest for a 4-year term on the Lucas County Board of Commissioners will see incumbent Carol Contrada, a Democrat, being challenged by a longtime Spencer Township trustee.
Mrs. Contrada said she is asking voters for another term to see through several initiatives already in the works. But her opponent, Michael Hood, said his opponent has failed to show any results in four years.
Republicans Benjamin Porter Roberts and Kevin Haddad will face off to see who challenges the Democratic opponent in November. Mr. Roberts and Mr. Haddad agree that the current all-Democratic board needs some Republican representation and better fiscal oversight.
Mrs. Contrada, 62, of 5035 Valencia Dr. in Sylvania Township is a part-time attorney at the law firm Contrada & Associates, which is owned by her husband.
In recent years, the commissioners have launched several ambitious projects to try to improve the quality of life for Lucas County residents, she said.
She supports plans to build a new county jail and endorses the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Plan that provides strategies to protect Lake Erie from harmful pollutants, among other initiatives.
She also endorses an initiative to make Lucas County more “immigrant friendly.” The initiative refers to immigrants who are in the country legally and is being supported by the current commissioners, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, and other community leaders.
“We can’t improve our economy living in isolation,” Mrs. Contrada said. “It’s important that we attract and retain the brightest international and local students.”
In September, the commissioners will seek public input on a 20-year comprehensive economic development plan, Mrs. Contrada said.
“This is a wonderful community we live in; we have so much potential,” she said. “I want to see the projects through.”
Her challenger is Michael Hood, 56, of 9761 Oak Place Ct., who has been a Spencer Township trustee for 21 years. Mr. Hood said he brings a wealth of government experience and leadership ability.
Mr. Hood said Mrs. Contrada has spent the past four years talking about the need to create new jobs, improve neighborhoods, and address other problems, but he believes the problems still exist.
“You have to do more than support plans,” Mr. Hood said. “If you haven’t done it during the past four years, during your watch, you’ve failed.”
County residents deserve a commissioner who represents residents in other county areas, just as much as the city of Toledo, Mr. Hood said.
In 2013, voters in Spencer Township and the Village of Whitehouse passed a Joint Economic Zone that allows Whitehouse to collect income taxes from Spencer Township residents and businesses. Mr. Hood spearheaded the plan.
Mr. Hood is part owner of Fish Gate LLC, a Holland business that specializes in fish aquariums and equipment.
On the Republican side, Kevin Haddad, 58, of 4136 Shamley Green in Sylvania Township is the owner of Kevin Haddad’s Design Group.
A longtime businessman, Mr. Haddad believes the commissioners could benefit from Republican representation and someone with real world business knowledge.
He said the community needs someone who will bring fiscal responsibility to the board. He said the current board ignores the problems residents care about, like the “horrendous” road conditions and regionalizing the county's water system.
“That’s what’s wrong with politics; there’s too many politicians,” he said. “We need to go out and talk to people. We need to look at the reasons for the problems, not the party you represent.”
One idea he has is to restart the small business association, which he said will help jumpstart the economy and create more jobs.
His Republican challenger, Benjamin Porter Roberts, 45, of 512 West Broadway in Maumee is a former director of the Lucas County Board of Elections where he oversaw a $4 million budget. During his tenure, he worked closely with county commissioners, so he is familiar with how the board operates, he said.
A private business consultant, he left his county position to become project manager of the West Side Montessori School, which was constructed at Bancroft and McCord streets. After the school was opened, he served as a board member. He’s also worked with many companies, including Dana Corp., where he worked on global strategy.
“I help a person solve problems; that’s what I do,” he said.
Mr. Roberts said he’s not sure what the county’s top priorities should be because he currently isn’t on the board. But he is concerned that there is a lack of balance — all three commissioners are Democrats.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask questions; it doesn’t have be contentious or mean,” Mr. Roberts said. “We need some oversight. We need someone with fiscal conservatism.”
Contact Federico Martinez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.