Toledo City Council President Louis Escobar announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election this year.
Mr. Escobar, 55, said he wants to concentrate on his goal of being a teacher in higher education. He said he plans to remain as council president until his term ends, Dec. 31.
Mr. Escobar is interim coordinator of the multicultural student center at the University of Toledo, which pays $41,450 a year. He said he needs to focus more time on his private life and career and will seek a doctorate.
He expressed satisfaction over the issues he has been associated with during his eight years on council, including the 2003 citywide smoking ban and the city's maintaining balanced budgets.
"I am truly humbled that you gave me eight great years of public service to you, the people of Toledo," he said. "My love has always been teaching, and I want to actually do that full time."
Mr. Escobar made his announcement, which has been expected for months, in front of 1406 Indiana Ave. in central Toledo, where he said he lived until he was 13.
He said the controversy in February over his use of the word "terrorism" in the debate over Fifth Third Bank's application for a surface parking lot had nothing to do with his decision.
"That comes with political life," Mr. Escobar said.
Fifth Third had sought approval for a parking and service entrance in the 300 block of North Huron Street, saying that if it were denied the permit the bank would be forced to move 200 jobs out of downtown.
Council approved the bank's plans Feb. 22 with Mr. Escobar and Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz voting no. So far, the bank has not moved to demolish the three buildings, at 319, 321, and 323 North Huron.
Mr. Escobar, who is openly gay, a former Catholic priest, and a Mexican-American, was elected to council in 1997 and 2001. He was elected by his peers as council president in January, 2003.
The president of council is paid a $4,500 stipend plus the $27,500 council salary.
Mr. Escobar's withdrawal leaves five incumbent at-large councilmen in the race, along with one district councilman, Bob McCloskey of District 3, 2137 Valentine St., competing for the five open seats.
There also are 11 challengers who have taken out petitions from the Lucas County Board of Elections.
They are: Mitch Balonek, 2631 Sherbrooke Rd.; Thomas Meinecke, 3134 Parkwood Ave.; David Schulz, 5310 303rd St.; Terry Shankland, 831 Islington St.; Mark Sobczak, 2739 Algonquin Pkwy.; Kent Haberkamp, 1026 Alcott St.; Karen Shanahan, 3633 Denise Drive; Chuck Cassis, 2635 Manchester Blvd.; D. Michael Collins, 2235 Heatherwood Drive; Michael Vanderhorst, 3740 Mapleway Drive, and Ernest Berry III, 229 Oswald St.
The incumbent candidates are Frank Szollosi, 4499 Meadow Creek Ct.; Karyn McConnell Hancock, 2663 West Village Drive; Phillip Copeland, 340 Sheldon St.; Betty Shultz, 5121 Fairgreen Drive, and George Sarantou, 4511 Sulgrave Drive.
The deadline to file petitions with at least 750 registered voters' signatures is July 15.