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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

Craig requests delay in vote on McCloskey seat

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mike Craig, right. Mike Craig, right.
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Mike Craig, the apparent victor in Toledo City Council District 3, said yesterday that he and not the incumbent, Taylor Balderas, should be the one to vote to fill a vacant seat on council.

Mr. Craig, 50, asked yesterday that council's vote, scheduled for today, be delayed until June 1, after the completion of an automatic recount in his election race.

But council President Rob Ludeman ruled out any change in the plans to vote today on a replacement for former at-large Councilman Bob McCloskey, who resigned May 2.

Mr. Craig contends that he is the voters' choice in District 3, where he defeated Ms. Balderas by five votes, according to the vote certified yesterday by the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Under state law, the close outcome requires a recount after a five-day period.

Ms. Balderas refused yesterday to waive the five-day waiting period, so the board of elections scheduled the recount for next Tuesday. Jill Kelly, elections director, said the recount should take less than three hours.

Mr. Craig and Councilman Frank Szollosi held a news conference in front of Government Center to call on Mr. Ludeman to postpone the vote on the at-large vacancy.

The outcome could tilt the balance of power on council away from Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and toward Democrats who were loyal last year to former Mayor Jack Ford.

Mr. Ludeman said he had not been contacted by Mr. Craig, and he said he will be out of town the week of Thursday through June 2.

"The consensus has always been [to meet] on the 23rd to fill [Mr. McCloskey's] seat," Mr. Ludeman said.

The dispute over District 3 has become a focal point for the continuing battle between the Finkbeiner and Ford wings of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Craig was supported by unions and individuals who backed Mr. Ford in his unsuccessful 2005 re-election bid. Ms. Balderas was supported by Mayor Finkbeiner and the Lucas County Democratic Party.

Likewise, the two factions are vying over today's planned vote to fill the vacant at-large seat.

Mr. Craig supports Bob Vasquez, who ran for city council last year as an ally of Mr. Ford. Ms. Balderas supports Lourdes Santiago, the Democratic Party's and Mr. Finkbeiner's endorsed candidate.

"We do believe it comes down to one vote on council between Vasquez and Ms. Santiago," Mr. Szollosi said.

The Board of Elections also scheduled an automatic recount of the Springfield Local Schools levy, which failed by eight votes. The levy had a 16-vote lead, according to the unofficial count, but lost when 183 previously unreported absentee ballots were added to the levy vote.

Ms. Kelly said the missing votes were discovered during the routine canvass last week when the signature and precinct clerk books were balanced to account for every vote.

She said a computer glitch caused the votes to remain on the memory cards in the computer but failed to upload to the printed report.

The 3.5-mill operating levy would have raised $2.5 million a year.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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