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Published: Tuesday, 1/13/2004

Barlos keeps county commissioner presidency

Despite being shunned by his own party, Harry Barlos retained the presidency of the Lucas County Board of Commissioners by a unanimous vote yesterday.

Mr. Barlos was nominated by Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who joined the majority in the county Democratic Party last month in endorsing Toledo Councilman Pete Gerken for commissioner over Mr. Barlos.

“If I need to pick battles with two colleagues on policy debates or how to move this county forward, I will pick those battles to get those jobs done,” Ms. Wozniak said. “But this wasn t one of those times when I felt it was necessary to have any controversy.”

As president of the board, Mr. Barlos isn t more powerful than his colleagues, but he does run the meetings and controls when the commissioners speak. Last year was his first as president of the board, which he joined in 1999.

His reappointment as presidency of the board seemed to be a foregone conclusion because Commissioner Maggie Thurber, the board s lone Republican, said last week she would support him. Mr. Barlos, who is running as an independent to retain his job, and Ms. Thurber may have a newfound alliance because the county Republican Party has endorsed Mr. Barlos for commissioner.

Mr. Barlos said he won t let the political turmoil surrounding him affect his actions as a commissioner.

“I know it s not going to be an easy year on the political side, but that s not going to detract from the goals and mission we have,” he said.

Ms. Thurber, who took office last year, said learning about county government is demanding because of the wide range of issues the commissioners confront. She said Mr. Barlos made the transition easier because of the way he conducted the meetings.

“What I have appreciated is the fact that you ve been very fair in the way that you ve handled the meetings, and you make sure all of us have a chance to have our say, even when we disagree, sometimes strenuously,” Ms. Thurber told Mr. Barlos yesterday.

In other business, the board decided to hold one meeting a week instead of two. Mr. Barlos said rather than conducting meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, meetings will be held only on Tuesdays. Overflow county business will be conducted Tuesday afternoons.

Mr. Barlos said holding meetings on Tuesdays will free employees schedules.

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