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Published: Friday, 7/23/2004

Szollosi move adds to south, west slant

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A dozen years since Toledo instituted its at-large/district form of city council, the balance of council members' residency has shifted west and south.

Councilman Frank Szollosi, an at-large council member who grew up in East Toledo, and his wife, Wednesday, have purchased a home in South Toledo. They plan to move to 4499 Meadow Creek Ct., near Glendale Avenue and Eastgate Road July 31.

Mr. Szollosi becomes the fifth of the 12 council members to live in District 2. He joins Council President Louis Escobar, at-large councilmen Karyn McConnell Hancock and Peter Gerken, and District 2 Councilman Rob Ludeman.

Three councilmen live in District 5 - district representative Ellen Grachek and at-large councilmen George Sarantou and Betty Shultz. The other four districts each have one council member as a resident.

Mr. Szollosi said they needed a bigger house and one closer to his wife's law office in Sylvania Township. Their son, Lucas, turns 3 next month, and they hope to expand their family. And, as outdoors lovers, they liked the fact that the house is adjacent to Swan Creek Metropark.

"It fit the bill, so we pulled the trigger," Mr. Szollosi, 32, said. "I look forward to getting a feeling of what living in another part of the city is like. It might make me a better councilman."

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Mr. and Mrs. Szollosi had been renting 331 Milford Dr. in East Toledo's Birmingham neighborhood. The house or garage have been burgled three times.

The most recent occurred July 15 when three bicycles - two mountain bikes and a customized BMX Mr. Szollosi has owned since high school - were taken from the garage.

Mr. Szollosi's planned move will leave East Toledo with fewer than two representatives on council for the first time since the start of the at-large/district council in 1994.

District 3 Councilman Bob McCloskey, who lives in East Toledo, said yesterday he did not know about Mr. Szollosi's plans and doubts it will change anything.

"Frank's family still lives on the east side. He grew up there. I think Frank's heart will still be in the Birmingham neighborhood," Mr. McCloskey said. "I know Frank's got a young family, and the house he's living in is small, so he's thinking of the future."

Mr. McCloskey said East Toledo could soon return to having two councilmen. He said he's interested in the at-large vacancy that would be created if either at-large councilmen Peter Gerken or Betty Shultz is successful in their runs for Lucas County offices.

That would require someone to fill his District 3 seat, and the bulk of District 3's population lives in East Toledo. But the district includes the Old South End and Highland Heights on the west side of the river, so a replacement in District 3 could come from one of those neighborhoods.

Ms. Shultz, a Republican, is running for county treasurer against District 6 Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat. Mr. Gerken, a Democrat, is running for county commissioner against incumbent Harry Barlos, a Democrat running as an Independent.

Mr. Escobar said the point of the 1993 charter changes was to make sure council representation was geographically balanced, and he said it is working as intended.

"The fact that they're staying in Toledo I think is great," Mr. Escobar said of Mr. and Mrs. Szollosi.

He did not agree that an at-large councilman would be biased in favor of the part of town where he or she lives.

The city is divided into six political districts, each represented by a council member elected by voters in his or her district. Six more council members are elected by and serve the entire city in at-large posts. The districts were approved by voters as part of its 1993 City Charter amendment, which also instituted a "strong mayor'' form of government.

Typically, district councilmen take the lead on local issues such as zoning, street paving, traffic, neighborhood groups, and nuisance abatement, while at-large councilmen are expected to focus on citywide issues.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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