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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

Perrysburg future may hold change

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Voters in some cities and townships cleaned house when they went to the polls on Election Day, and the dust is still settling in some places.

In Perrysburg, where two councilmen were defeated by two newcomers, some people are speculating that election results might mean a cloudy political future for the city s Republican mayor.

The defeat of Kim Klewer, council president, and councilman Mark Hummer possibly was linked to a backlash against Mayor Jody Holbrook, some residents said.

Mr. Klewer, who said he was amazed by the outcome of the election, said that he might have lost votes because some negative comments made just before the election linked him to a Republican “political machine” running the city. The allegation, Mr. Klewer said, is plainly false and there is no basis for it.

Criticism of city leaders erupted after Nelson Evans, who was Perrysburg s police chief, was left off an invitation list for the groundbreaking for the new police station. Mr. Evans retired in September.

Councilman-elect Kevin Ran-tanen, who decided to run for election in part because of the invitation-list flap, said he believes the two incumbents lost “because many people in Perrysburg are upset with the administration” and they see Mr. Hummer and Mr. Klewer as “part of it.” The biggest thing that upset people, he said, was the way the police chief was treated by city officials.

In June, Mr. Rantanen checked to see how many signatures it would take for a recall effort to get under way to unseat Mayor Holbrook, but decided it would be a more positive step if he ran for office.

Mr. Rantanen predicted that there would be some changes in the administration after the two new council members take office, but those changes would not necessarily involve the mayor. Council members, he said, need to be a voice for the community and they need to voice that opinion to the administration on behalf of the community.

Mayor Jody Holbrook said things have been quiet in the community since the election. He said he doesn t know why there would have been any voter backlash linked to him because he wasn t involved in the Chief Evans issue. “I tried to stay out of the police chief thing,” Mr. Holbrook said.

At the time of the groundbreaking, some city officials said the chief was absent from the ceremony because of an oversight, but some residents contended the matter was related to the arrest by Perrysburg police of the mayor s son on drug charges.

Although there have been some rumblings about Mr. Holbrook being recalled or asked to resign, the mayor said that he hasn t heard any talk about that. “I have no plans to step down,” he said. “No one has asked me to.”

Mayor Holbrook did say that recent events have caused him to slow down thoughts of his political future. When asked if he plans to run for re-election in two years, he said, “I don t know. I am reviewing my political future.”

Also elected to Perrysburg City Cuncil was Liz Larson-Shidler, the city s former treasurer and income tax commissioner.

In Monclova Township, Gary Kuns, a 20-year member of the board of trustees, was defeated, according to unofficial totals, by a 22-vote margin by Barbara Lang in her first bid for elected office.

“I am really excited about serving the community,” she said, adding that she hopes to get others in the township interested in local government. “I hope to see a lot of new faces at the township meetings.”

She said her win likely reflects residents desire for a new face in the trustee s seat. “I think people decided it was time for a change,” said Mrs. Lang who ran for office after attending meetings on a proposed retail/commercial complex near Albon Road and Maumee Western Road. She is opposed to the project.

Mr. Kuns did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

In Maumee, where City Council incumbents Jenny Barlos, Todd Zimmerman, and Douglas Brainard retained their seats, and Mayor Tim Wagener was unopposed, some officials were relieved with the outcome of the vote on Issue 17, an initiative aimed at controlling big-box retailers. The issue, which was soundly defeated, would have required residents to vote on future large-scale retail development.

Dave Westrick, a Maumee resident who has been an outspoken opponent of big-box retailers and urban sprawl, said that there was some confusion when some residents thought that a yes vote meant that they were in favor of malls and other large-scale retail development. Despite the defeat, he was pleased by the grass-roots efforts by residents who were concerned enough about the future of the city to take a stand.

Mayor Wagener said city officials have taken steps to address some of the residents concerns about development in that area.

The city is working to implement a development overlay that would restrict development to 50 percent retail and 50 percent office and light industrial, he said.



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