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MAUMEE -- Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener, who is under investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission for intermingling his personal finances with his public office, said he doesn't believe that will sway voters from re-electing him to his fourth term in the Nov. 8 election.
Instead, he hopes they focus on Maumee's quality of life -- from the city's Holiday Lights Parade and the refurbished Maumee Indoor Theater to street improvements and other city infrastructure improvements, he said.
"More than anything, people will look at the advances we've made over the last 12 years." Mr. Wagener, a Democrat, said.
"I'm known as a cheerleader for Maumee."
But his Republican opponent, Maumee City Councilman Timothy Pauken, said he should be elected because he has more leadership skills and will work harder to boost the city's economic development, which is something he believes Mayor Wagener lacked.
"He's not focused on his job as mayor, in my opinion," said Mr. Pauken, who is serving his second term on City Council.
"People deserve to have a choice. They also deserve a chance to have somebody who really cares about the city, as I do."
It's only the second time in Mayor Wagener's tenure he's faced opposition. The mayor's salary is $27,951 a year.
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Along with the mayor's race, there is an uncontested race on the ballot for City Council, which pays $7,107 annually.
Incumbent Jenny Barlos and newcomers Daniel Hazard and John Boellner are seeking the three four-year terms.
Council members Todd Zimmerman and Doug Brainard decided not to seek re-election.
Both Mr. Pauken and Mayor Wagener come from families with deep backgrounds in Maumee politics. For instance, Mr. Pauken's brother Steve is a former Maumee mayor and Mayor Wagener's uncle Nick Wagener was a longtime councilman.
Mr. Pauken, 51, is a building engineer at Maumee City Schools and has lived in the city 41 years.
One of Mr. Pauken's biggest concerns is the empty storefronts he sees around the city, he said.
Mr. Pauken said he wants to offer more tax incentives to entice businesses to Maumee and that the city should hire an economic development director to work with developers and landowners to get more projects -- such as affordable housing for seniors -- moving forward.
Mayor Wagener, 54, a lifetime Maumee resident, is an insurance agent for Modern Woodmen of America, which has an office in the city.
Before he was elected mayor, he served on City Council from 1991 until 1999.
He said his focus is maintaining the city's quality of life. He pointed out that the city has not laid off any public employees, even when Maumee's budget had a $2.4 million deficit last year. Since then, the city's tax revenue has improved significantly and now has a $250,000 budget surplus.
The state ethics commission is investigating Mayor Wagener for accepting personal loans from a city employee, who was a friend, when he was struggling financially in recent years.
The allegations of misconduct include claims that the mayor obtained a list of retiring city employees and their spouses in an attempt to sell them annuities through his insurance work.
Mayor Wagener declined to speak about the investigation but said he believes he's been honest with the community about what happened and that he's received positive feedback from his constituents.
"The support has been tremendous from the citizens -- no judgment, just support," he said. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better small town where people all come together for each other."
Contact Gabrielle Russon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6026.