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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2003

Union manager named to board of port authority

Dennis Duffey, 56, of Grand Rapids, Ohio. Dennis Duffey, 56, of Grand Rapids, Ohio.

Dennis Duffey, business manager of a local electrical union, was named yesterday by the Lucas County commissioners to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's board of directors.

Mr. Duffey, 56, of Grand Rapids, Ohio, said he hopes to be a positive force on the sometimes contentious port board.

“I've been able to take some pretty stormy situations and kind of defuse them and come out of them with positives for everyone,” said Mr. Duffey, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8.

Commissioners Harry Barlos and Tina Skeldon Wozniak approved Mr. Duffey, while Maggie Thurber voted against his appointment.

Ms. Thurber said she respects Mr. Duffey, but wanted to appoint a woman with a financial background.

“All things being equal, I think the port authority board needs some diversity and reflect the make-up of the community,” she said.

She said she also wasn't comfortable with Mr. Duffey because he didn't make time to meet with her during the interview process.

Mr. Duffey, business manager of the electrical union since 1992, said his schedule was booked when Ms. Thurber wanted to meet and he filled out a questionnaire her office sent him.

Ms. Wozniak said she favored Mr. Duffey because he would provide a sense for the “pulse of the community” and is well respected.

She said she would like him to encourage the board to embrace economic development opportunities that involve the technology sector. “His business has had to evolve as rapidly as any in the technology area,” she said.

Bruce Baumhower, a port authority board member and president of United Auto Workers Local 12, said Mr. Duffey helps add to “the working man's” perspective.

“I think on the economic development side, there are some folks who are afraid of a strong union town,” he said. “We're able to promote the positive aspects of our workforce.”

Mr. Barlos, president of the commissioners, said he chose Mr. Duffey because he has a “strong personality” and will make his views known.

“He's very concerned and interested in the economic well-being not just of his union members, but the community as a whole.”

Mr. Duffey replaces longtime board member G. Ray Medlin, a former union leader who later became the business development manager at Lathrop Co.

Mr. Duffey is the third person to be appointed to the port authority board this year. In February, the commissioners named Carty Finkbeiner to the board, and Mayor Jack Ford appointed Margarita DeLeon in March.

The commissioners make six appointments to the board, while the mayor of Toledo - with City Council's approval - controls six appointments. The mayor and the commissioners make one joint appointment.

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