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Published: Monday, 4/14/2003

Council hopefuls grilled on issues

The two candidates for the Toledo City Council District 5 seat fielded questions from members of a community group in West Toledo, about three weeks before voters will decide who will be councilman for the rest of the year.

Democrat Ellen Grachek, 26, and Republican Mary Beth Moran, 39, pledged to put neighborhood concerns at the top of their lists when it comes to development but also said the West Toledo district needs more good jobs.

They both said they would work to implement the “Walk Westgate” plan to increase business and residential density in the Westgate area near Central Avenue and Secor Road to make it easier for pedestrians to shop.

Ms. Moran called the plan “a wonderful beginning” to reinvigorating the Westgate shopping district.

The competition is tough - Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park recently announced it plans to spend $60 million on a major expansion. Both shopping areas are in District 5.

Among other things, “I will make it work by helping get everybody excited about it,” Ms. Moran said of the Walk Westgate plan.

“There are some flaws in the plan,” Ms. Grachek said, adding that she hopes to work to iron out the difficulties. “It is my job to make happen what the citizens want to happen.”

City Council picked Ms. Grachek to fill the unexpired term of Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who had been picked to fill Bill Copeland's unexpired term after he retired from the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.

Ms. Grachek and Ms Moran square off in a May 6 special election.

Ms. Moran is an attorney in private practice. Her office is downtown. Ms. Grachek is a legal assistant who has graduated from the UT law school.

Asked what can be done by the city to reign in wild students from the University of Toledo who lived together in rental housing in the district, which borders the school, Ms. Grachek said the key is “accountability.”

“Students and absentee landlords must be held accountable for their actions,” she said, adding that the city also needs to make sure there are enough police patrols in the area.

Ms. Moran agreed, saying that “the university needs to be involved, the city needs to be involved, and students need to be involved” in making sure those in the rental homes are good neighbors.

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