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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

District 3 candidates trumpet their strengths

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Each of the four people running for the Toledo City Council District 3 seat in a special election Tuesday thinks he or she has the winning edge.

Taylor Balderas, 22, of South Toledo, has the Lucas County Democratic Party's support.

Fred Kutz, 58, an unendorsed Democrat, has the most formal education and is a neighborhood activist.

Mike Craig, 50, an unendorsed Democrat, has attracted valuable backing from the A-team side of the county Democratic Party.

And Donald Boisselle, 70, the endorsed Republican, is well-known in East Toledo for his years as a coach and union official.

The four candidates are competing to serve the 20 months left in the District 3 term that was vacated Jan. 3 by Democrat Bob McCloskey when he became an at-large councilman. Mr. McCloskey this week resigned from the at-large seat, following his indictment by a Lucas County grand jury on two counts of bribery.

District 3 includes all of East Toledo and parts of South Toledo reaching to the Arlington neighborhood near the Toledo Zoo.

Ms. Balderas, who was appointed in January, is the first South Toledo resident to represent the district since the creation of the district council system in 1993.

The other three candidates live in East Toledo.

Yesterday, Mr. Craig, Mr. Kutz, and Ms. Balderas made their pitches to the East Toledo Club at Cousino's Steakhouse in Oregon. Mr. Boisselle didn't attend.

"I've been working extremely hard the last four months, and extremely well with the other council members," Ms. Balderas said.

In addition to the political support of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and the party, Ms. Balderas is getting support from Hispanic groups.

A 2005 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Ms. Balderas directed Imagenes Mexicanas, a Mexican folkloric dance troupe, as a teenager. Since college, she worked part-time for Viva South Toledo, a city-funded community development corporation, but resigned when she was appointed to council to avoid a conflict of interest.

She said her key issues are public safety and developing the Marina District.

Mr. Craig, a deputy in the Lucas County Clerk of Courts office, claimed that the district has lacked leadership since the Balderas appointment.

He cited what he said is a 2006 paving budget in which East Toledo is dead last, and the slow pace of Marina District development.

"This is the largest economic development project in northwest Ohio and it's essentially been on the back burner for six months," Mr. Craig said.

The United Auto Workers political action committee gave Mr. Craig $10,000 because he is a UAW member. He is getting political assistance and funding from the Service Employees Union International 1199 in Columbus. Both unions supported former Mayor Jack Ford for mayor last year.

Mr. Kutz, a retired urban planner and manufacturer's representative, said the district has problems, especially in housing.

He said too many houses in District 3 have been converted from owner-occupied to rentals.

"Most issues are very complex. I am the one who has the most formal education, who is the most qualified to understand complex issues," Mr. Kutz said.

Mr. Kutz said he has completed 44 hours of a master's degree in public administration and planning at the University of Toledo.

He said he would emphasize developing regional government. "We have to stop being parochial," Mr. Kutz said.

Mr. Boisselle has run a front-porch campaign, lining east side and South Toledo streets with his signs, but otherwise leaving the selection up to voters.

"Everybody just about on the east side knows Don Boisselle, and they know what I'm about," he said.

Mr. Boisselle has coached boxing, wrestling, and soccer in East Toledo, including 21 years as the Waite High School boys soccer coach.

He was a Teamsters union steward and a union mason.

All four candidates have endorsed putting a new arena in the Marina District, rather than the downtown business district.

Mr. Kutz has recommended the industrial area around the train station - also in District 3 - as a second choice.

Ms. Balderas said she favors a Marina District location for the arena, but said the arena project has been taken over by Lucas County and may not be up to City Council anymore.

Mr. Craig has seized on east-side pride in the arena, putting a picture of himself in front of the arena in one of his glossy brochures.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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