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Council race, GOP primary top ballot

A spirited city council race featuring five candidates, a GOP congressional race, and a social services levy highlight today's primary election in the Toledo area.

The weather, often a critical factor in voter turnout, is expected to be decent with temperatures in the mid-70s and a chance of rain.

In the District 4 city council race, five candidates are vying for the seat vacated by Edna Brown, who was appointed to fill the Ohio House seat that opened up when Jack Ford won the mayor's seat in November.

The victor among Democrats Michael Ashford and Perlean Griffin, Republican Dennis C. Lange, and Independents Rick VanLandingham III and Mansour Bey will serve the 20 months left on Ms. Brown's term.

Mr. Ashford, director of the Wayman Palmer YMCA and the appointed District 4 councilman until the election, has the local Democratic Party endorsement, the backing of Mr. Ford, and has raised more money than all his competitors combined.

Mr. Bey is a minister and former director of the Cherry Street Mission; Ms. Griffin is the city's former director of affirmative action; Mr. Lange is a restaurateur who has directed the Old West End Association; and Mr. VanLandingham is a environmentalist and University of Toledo law student.

A new electronic touch-screen voting system will be used in the District 4 campaign. Ms. Szuch said no commitment has been made to use the system countywide in future elections.

“We're looking at it,” she said.

A 0.5-mill, five-year levy, known as Issue 3, could raise $3.8 million for the Lucas County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services board, known as ADAS, if passed. The issue was narrowly defeated in the November election. If passed, the levy would increase taxes on a $100,000 home by $15.30 a year and allow immediate treatment of people with drug and alcohol addictions who visit ADAS.

Mr. Ford, who helped found Substance Abuse Services, Inc., has voiced strong support for the levy.

“I know first hand as a legislator and a mayor that you see the ravages of drug abuse in 100 ways - domestic violence, school dropouts, aggravated assault, and vehicular homicide,” Mr. Ford said.

The most widely anticipated area race pits U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort) against fellow Republican state Rep. Rex Damschroder, 52, of Fremont in the newly reconfigured 5th Congressional District, a 16-county area that stretches from the Indiana border to central Ohio and north to the Michigan line. Three Lucas County townships - Providence, Swanton, and Waterville - are a part of the 5th District.

Mr. Damschroder, who has to give up his Ohio House seat because of term limits, covered about 6,000 miles in a 25-year-old RV in a grass-roots effort to unseat Mr. Gillmor, who has never faced a GOP challenge in his seven terms.

Mr. Damschroder, while politically aligned with his opponent, has called Mr. Gillmor an absentee congressman because he lives out of his district in a Columbus suburb and has claimed that the congressman does not spend enough time with his constituents. He also has criticized Mr. Gillmor for the congressman's spotty attendance record at congressional meetings and says Mr. Gillmor has been in public service too long and has lost touch with real-world problems facing his constituents.

Mr. Gillmor, 63, refutes Mr. Damschroder's claims, saying he spends plenty of time in the district, that all his meetings are covered by himself or his staff, and that his constituents are better off with a congressman with seniority. As for the residency issue, Mr. Gillmor says the residency factor only is a concern with voters who won't support him anyway.

A pair of Republicans, Dock Treece, a former Sylvania Township trustee, and Michael Troper, treasury manager at the University of Toledo, are vying for the opportunity to face Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County Commission, of where she has been a member since 1985.

Another pair of Republicans, Kwame Mu'Min, a construction worker and UT engineering student, and Phillip Barbosa, property manager for Hillenbrand/Zaleski Development, will compete for the right to face state Rep. Teresa Fedor in the Ohio Senate District 11 race in November. Ms. Fedor (D., Toledo) is unopposed in the primary. The seat will be open because incumbent Linda Furney, a Democrat, is leaving due to term limits.

Voters in six area school districts - Perrysburg, Rossford, Northwood, Evergreen, Otsego, and Woodmore - will be asked to pass measures to help stave off budget deficits. In Perrysburg, passage of a 6.9-mill levy would raise $8.6 million in two years for operating expenses. Projected budget cuts of $2.4 million during that time already have been outlined, and failure to pass the levy will result in additional cuts, school officials say.

In Woodmore, school officials say the district is out $300,000 from declining enrollment and decreased tax income. Passage of a 5.4-mill levy over five years would make up for the deficit, school officials say.

Rossford school leaders are seeking a 7.9-mill replacement levy and a new 7.9-mill levy, both for five years, to help with operating costs that have been affected by declining state aid and stagnant local revenues.

Around the region, voters in eight school districts - Defiance, Bryan, Patrick Henry, Ottawa Glandorf, Liberty Center, Sandusky, Gorham Fayette, and Edgerton - will be asked to support levies. Defiance, Bryan, and Patrick Henry school districts, in particular, face tough challenges.

In Defiance, an 11-mill levy that was twice-defeated last year has been trimmed to 7.1 mills. The levy, if approved, will generate $1.58 million a year for five years. Already this year, the city school district has trimmed about $450,000 from its budget. About $800,000 in additional cuts are planned if the levy fails.

In Bryan, where the city school district faces a $9 million deficit in four years, voters are being asked to approve an emergency 6.8-mill levy over five years. If the levy is defeated, jobs will be lost, cuts will be made in busing and extracurricular activities, and school hours will be cut, officials have said.

In Patrick Henry, where a new middle school is needed, voters are being asked to support a 2.85-mill levy that will generate $3.6 million over 28 years. A similar measure has been defeated four times since 1998.

One mill equals $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 assessed value.

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