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Published: Thursday, 5/8/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Cherry wins council seat with 40.3% of the vote

Labor union leader 1st Dem to win District 2

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Matt Cherry, 34, the busi­ness agent of Lo­cal 33 Sheet Metal Work­ers, easily got the most votes among four candidates. Matt Cherry, 34, the busi­ness agent of Lo­cal 33 Sheet Metal Work­ers, easily got the most votes among four candidates.
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Voters in Toledo’s 2nd District in South Toledo picked their councilman Tuesday based on signs, media advertising, door-to-door walking, and flashy mailers, but no opportunities for voters to see issues hashed out in person.

The relatively issue-free campaign was bemoaned by several of the candidates, though all four said they felt good about their own efforts to reach voters.

Matt Cherry, 34, the business agent of Local 33 Sheet Metal Workers, won with 1,823 votes, or 40.3 percent, followed by Marcia Helman with 1,520 votes, or 33.6 percent, Bob Vasquez with 775 votes, or 17 percent, and Joe Celusta with 404 votes, or 9 percent, according to unofficial results from the Lucas County Board of Elections.

The election was to finish the two years remaining in the term of D. Michael Collins, who was sworn in as mayor Jan. 2.

Mr. Vasquez, a Toledo School board member who tossed his hat in as an unendorsed Democrat, said the biggest variables were the low turnout, the short window in which to organize campaigns, and confusion over the paper ballot that was used by the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Mr. Cherry, the endorsed Democrat, ran a visible campaign and made policy-related claims in his large campaign postcards. One showed a rain-filled pothole with the caption, “Are you tired of seeing this? So is Matt Cherry.”

The card’s opposite side said Mr. Cherry, who was appointed to the vacancy in January, “is working every day to fix our streets.”

“I think I won the election because I worked really hard. I tried to knock on as many doors as I could every day,” he said. “I did pretty good raising some money for commercials, radio ads, my signs.”

Mr. Cherry estimated he spent $35,000 or $40,000. He said all the candidates appeared together only on WTOL-TV, Channel 11’s public affairs program Leading Edge.

Ms. Helman, a political independent, based her campaign on her familiarity with the district, as the owner of Lickity Split ice cream store and her service on the Walbridge Park Board and the Arts Commission of Toledo. She said she took every invitation there was but never had a candidate forum.

“I ran the race the way I wanted to. I have no regrets on that. It was something I always wanted to do,” Ms. Helman said. Asked if she planned to try again, she said, “I’m taking down signs today. I haven’t thrown them out, if that means anything.”

Endorsed Republican Joseph Celusta held a campaign news conference on the Friday before the election when he announced his plan for a national contest to find a buyer for the dilapidated former Clarion Hotel on Reynolds Road. City Council has voted to have the structure demolished.

Mr. Cherry is the first Democrat to win District 2 since the start of district council elections in 1993. Republican Rob Ludeman served for 14 years and was followed by Mr. Collins, an independent.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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