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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2005

Oregon, Jerusalem Township: Both ballots full of choices Nov. 8

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Several public offices and funding requests will appear on the ballot in Lucas County, leaving Oregon and Jerusalem Township voters with a plateful of decisions on Nov. 8.

All seven Oregon council seats are up for grabs, and six incumbents will be running against five challengers. The city's police levy is up for renewal.

Two Jerusalem Township trustees' seats are open, and four people are vying for the spots while the current trustees are asking voters to renew a fire department levy.

The only Oregon councilman who is not seeking re-election is Jeff Keller, 46, who filed petitions to run for Oregon Municipal Court judge.

Sharon Graffeo-Rudess, 62, a clerk at the Lucas County Common Pleas Court was first elected to council in 1979. She said she's running for her seventh term because she wants to bring more economic development to the city.

Jerry Peach, 57, is the senior member of council with nine terms. He is a farm-owner and former teacher who said he works to keep himself well-informed on city issues. "I bring a lot of knowledge and perspective that might not otherwise be available," he said.

James Seaman, 54, a Toledo Public Schools psychologist, has been a member of council since 1989. He said he wants to improve the recreation program to meet the needs of residents.

Michael Seferian, 47, a self-employed mechanic who is serving his seventh term, said he wants to continue to take a special interest in water and sewer issues.

Michael Sheehy, 57, is council president who is completing his sixth consecutive term. A yard foreman at CSX Railroad, he said he wants to continue to make the community a better place to live.

Matthew Szollosi, 31, a labor attorney, is serving his third consecutive term but is running for a fourth to continue to work on updating the city's comprehensive master plan.

They're being challenged by several former Oregon employees and councilmen.

Marvin Belknap, Jr., 45, a self-employed Toledo real estate investor was a volunteer firefighter in Oregon and Northwood. He said he wants to lead the city in a different direction. "I just disagree with the direction that our present council is taking Oregon," he said.

Sandy Bihn, 58, a western Lake Erie water keeper, served on council from 1983 until she resigned in 1986 to become the city's tax commissioner.

She was then clerk auditor for eight years before becoming the city's finance director from 1994 until 2004.

Last year, she accepted a deal to resign to avoid a council vote to remove her from her position. City officials said she displayed insubordination and poor judgment, while Mrs. Bihn claimed city officials had improperly asked her to disburse more of a $500,000 grant than permitted to a developer.

As an environmental activist, she said she wants to be on council again because there "needs to be a voice on environmental issues."

Steven Kusian, 34, a steelworker who was on council from 1991 to 1997, said he wants to run again to work to keep residents from going to neighboring cities to shop or eat by providing more of those places in Oregon.

Paul Lambrecht, 38, is an auto worker who said he wants to work so children will experience Oregon as a positive place.

Challenger Doug Joyce, 54, director of the Mayores Senior Center in Toledo who was the Oregon recreation director from 1993 to 2003, could not be reached for comment.

Oregon Mayor Marge Brown will continue her role in the city's highest office because no one filed petitions to run against her.

"I'm very concerned, and I hope it's not apathy," she said. "But I was really excited and very humbled by it all."

Council is also asking voters to approve a five-year, 0.5-mill property tax renewal to help fund new equipment and salaries in the police department. The levy was first passed in 1965, generates $142,500 annually for the department, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $3 a year.

Jerusalem Township trustees are asking voters to approve a five-year, 5-mill renewal tax levy for equipment and operating expenses in the fire department. If approved, it would generate $222,000 a year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $95 a year.

Also on the ballot, one incumbent is running against three challengers for two open seats. Trustee John Hansen has not filed petitions to run again.

Incumbent Joseph Gray, 37, a self-employed construction worker, is running for his second term to finish what he started in his first.

He's being challenged by Rodney Graffis, 40, a sheet-metal worker; Marvin Bill Hoops, 64, a retired carpenter, and James Wolfe, 57, a maintenance dispatcher who volunteered at the township's fire department for 18 years.

Mr. Graffis and Mr. Hoops said they want to help clean up the township, while Mr. Wolfe said he wants to start work on a recreation facility that's been proposed in the past.

Township clerk Donald Murray, 57, was appointed to his position in March and will be running unopposed in November for the remaining two years of the clerk's term.



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