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Published: Wednesday, 12/18/2002

City Council extends ban on handguns

Mayor Jack Ford presents Peter Ujvagi with a key to the city during Mr. Ujvagi's last meeting as president of council. Mayor Jack Ford presents Peter Ujvagi with a key to the city during Mr. Ujvagi's last meeting as president of council.
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Toledo City Council last night renewed the ban on cheap and easily concealed handguns, and bid farewell to departing council President Peter Ujvagi.

Mayor Jack Ford broke a 6-6 tie to repeal a sunset provision that would have caused Toledo's handgun ordinance to expire Jan. 27.

Mr. Ford said he expects to propose changes to address problems cited since the law passed in 1999, especially complaints that it discriminates against people who claim they need to defend themselves in their homes but cannot handle the large, heavy handguns that tend to meet the legal requirements.

“Smaller guns in homes may make sense for folks with some impairment,” Mr. Ford said.

Three years ago, the ordinance passed 7-5. Since then, two council members who voted for the ban have been replaced. Their replacements, George Sarantou and Michael Ashford, split on the gun question last night, causing the tie vote.

Voting in favor of continuing the ban were Mr. Ashford, Wilma Brown, Louis Escobar, Wade Kapszukiewicz, Mr. Ujvagi, and Tina Skeldon Wozniak.

Opposing the ban were Peter Gerken, Rob Ludeman, Bob McCloskey, Mr. Sarantou, Betty Shultz, and Gene Zmuda.

Opponents of the gun ban pointed to the few arrests made by police as evidence that the ordinance was never needed. Police Chief Michael Navarre said eight people have been charged under the law, but only one since 2000.

Supporters argued that the law targets the kinds of guns favored by criminals and juveniles.

The council meeting was the last for Mr. Ujvagi, who intends to resign Dec. 31 to take a seat in the Ohio General Assembly. Mayor Ford presented Mr. Ujvagi with a key to the city. His fellow council members gave him a picture of the Birmingham neighborhood where he lives.

They also lavished praise on him. Mrs. Wozniak said, “I'll miss your big heart,” noting that Mr. Ujvagi was always motivated by his passion for the city's neighborhoods.

Several noted that Mr. Ujvagi pushed to make council an equal branch of city government under the strong mayor form of government.

Republicans Mr. Ludeman and Mr. Zmuda noted Mr. Ujvagi's fairness to members of their party, who are in a 3-9 minority on council.

“Any kind words to Speaker Householder would be much appreciated,” Mr. Ujvagi joked back. Larry Householder (R., Glenford) is speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said Mr. Ujvagi is the “gold standard” he measures others by. “One day, there might be a Peter S. Ujvagi Park. One day, there might be a Peter S. Ujvagi School. Whatever it is, it won't be enough,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Mr. Ujvagi was elected Nov. 5 to represent House District 47, which includes parts of East and South Toledo. He has served 16 years in several stints on council and has been its president since January, 1998.

Mr. Escobar, Mr. Gerken, and Mr. McCloskey have declared their interest in the election for a new president on Jan. 7.

Council also approved:

  • Six of seven ordinances needed to clear the way for the administration to receive a $3 million state grant to clean up its share of the Marina District project in East Toledo. One ordinance authorizes hiring Hull & Associates as project manager for $1.7 million.

    The city and Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority were each awarded a $3 million grant from the Clean Ohio Council to help clear the site that includes the former Toledo Edison Acme Power Plant for a $191 million development to include a new arena, housing, retail outlets, theaters, and a marina.

  • Twenty-two permanent appointments for the Ford administration, including William Franklin as assistant chief operating officer. Mr. Franklin was commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor.

  • The sale of the former Secor Armory to a group headed by developer John Shousher for use as a community center. The 3.6-acre parcel will be sold for $140,000.



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