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TREASURER REBUFFED

Lucas County Democrats endorse Hicks-Hudson

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    The Lucas County Democratic Party voted Monday to endorse Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson for re-election.

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    Kapszukiewicz

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The Lucas County Democratic Party endorsed Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson for re-election Monday night, rebuffing an application for the endorsement from Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he is seriously considering running and would not be deterred by the party’s support for Ms. Hicks-Hudson.

“As a Democrat, I’m disappointed that the party has decided to endorse in the race for mayor. The most important lesson of the 2016 election is that people in our country are struggling, frustrated, and looking for change. I believe that is true in Toledo also. When things aren’t working, it’s important to challenge the status quo and that is a driving factor for me,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Democratic Chairman Joshua Hughes said the executive committee’s vote, with about 100 people in attendance, was unanimous for Ms. Hicks-Hudson.

BLADE BRIEFING: Tom Troy on the Lucas Co. endorsement

“I would expect that this endorsement would greatly help her in her fund-raising efforts,” Mr. Hughes said. He said Ms. Hicks-Hudson is welcome to run her campaign out of the party’s headquarters on Madison Avenue.

“We’re confident by our endorsement that Ms. Hicks-Hudson was handed a very difficult situation and has the city pointed in the right direction,” Mr. Hughes said.

The mayoral endorsement was the party’s first venture back into taking sides before the September primary since 2001, the year it endorsed Jack Ford over then-Treasurer Ray Kest. Mr. Ford won the election, but the party split into factions during his term and adopted a policy of not endorsing before the September primary.

The policy was revised after the 2013 election in which no Democratic candidate survived the primary election to run in the general election for mayor.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson welcomed the party’s backing.

“It shows again the party believes that, number one, I’m doing a good job, and it is important for the continuity of the office,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson, 65, was council president in February, 2015, when Mayor D. Michael Collins died of cardiac arrest, making her mayor automatically. She won a special election that November against a crowded field to finish Mr. Collins’ term.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson has managed a city emerging from the fiscal crisis of the Great Recession and, in recent months, has added $7 million to the city budget to pay for street repaving this summer.

In 2016, she supported a quarter-percentage-point hike in the city income tax that voters defeated.

She cited four issues on which she would campaign: maintaining safe water, improving neighborhood safety, boosting economic growth, and implementing government efficiencies.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson was endorsed for re-election by the state Democratic Party in January, leaving little doubt the local party would do the same.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz, 44, the county treasurer since 2005 and a member of the party’s executive committee, said he was not concerned by the risk of party sanction against him for running against its nominee.

“The policies and procedures of any organization are not as important to me as what are the best interests of Toledoans,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

He indicated he has been talking to business leaders, community leaders, and labor leaders about his campaign.

“I believe that all Toledoans, regardless of political party or what part of the city you live in, deserve leadership that will tackle tough problems and get real results,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz was on city council from 1999 until he was elected Lucas County treasurer in 2004. As treasurer, he led the effort to form the Lucas County land bank to demolish or redevelop vacant and abandoned properties.

On the Republican side, Councilman Tom Waniewski is exploring a run for mayor. The Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition was conducting a telephone poll Monday to gauge voter support for Ms. Hicks-Hudson, Mr. Kapszukiewicz, and Mr. Waniewski.

The filing deadline is July 14 for the nonpartisan primary on Sept. 12.

The party’s screening committee interviewed candidates in February.

The executive committee also voted to endorse candidates for at-large Toledo City Council seats: incumbents Cecelia Adams and Larry Sykes, and challengers Kurt Young, Gary Johnson, Nick Komives, and Sam Melden.

The party endorsed judicial candidates for Toledo Municipal Court: incumbent Judge Michelle Wagner, Dale Emch to run against Republican incumbent Judge Robert Christiansen, and Joseph Howe for the seat held by Judge C. Allen McConnell who has reached mandatory retirement. Mr. Emch, a lawyer, is a former Blade reporter and is the husband of Kim Bates, city editor of The Blade.

The party endorsed Clint Wasserman for the open seat on Oregon Municipal Court, Michael Bonfiglio for Sylvania Municipal Court, and incumbent Judge Gary Byers for Maumee Municipal Court.

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

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