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Published: 6/11/2009

Sobczak cites union job as 1 reason for resignation from council

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo City Council President Mark Sobczak resigned from council Thursday.

In a letter, Mr. Sobczak cited the strain of his council duties on his full-time job as vice president of Teamsters Local 20 and on his family.

"My duties on council along with my position as vice president of Teamsters Local 20, at times, have been demanding. These dual demands have brought me to a point where I know it is in the best interests of my union and my family that I resign. I have worked tirelessly as a lifelong trade unionist, and I do not want even the perception I am acting in any way to the contrary," Mr. Sobczak said in the letter he submitted to Gerald Dendinger, clerk of Toledo City Council.

Mr. Sobczak's departure will take effect after council's next regular meeting, June 23.

He said he leaves with a "strong sense of optimism for Toledo's future.

"I have sought to be a voice for labor and to bring about a successful blending of the needs of my fellow union brothers and sisters with the needs and wants of the city's residents," Mr. Sobczak wrote. "I hope time will show this approach has been successful."

He wished his fellow council members the best, saying he has enjoyed working with them, and urged them to put aside personal differences and "work for what is best for Toledo."

He said resigning now "provides a talented newcomer the opportunity to be appointed to my seat and to learn how to meet the multiple responsibilities that are part of a Toledo City Council member's life."

The vacancy would be filled by council.

In his letter, Mr. Sobczak noted that the city is facing financial problems, but will "move forward to re-establish itself as a leader in our state.

"With the city's involvement in advanced energies and manufacturing, its position as a transportation hub, the strides being made by The University of Toledo and the city's other economic development partners and, most of all, the quality of its people, I have no doubt Toledo will flourish," he wrote.

Mr. Sobczak, 52, ran for and was elected to an at-large seat on council in November, 2005. He was elected president Jan. 2, 2008, in a 6-6 tie against fellow Democrat Michael Ashford that was broken by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in Mr. Sobczak's favor.

As council president, Mr. Sobczak has often been an ally of Mr. Finkbeiner, clashing frequently with so-called A-team Democrats.

In recent months, Mr. Finkbeiner has sought changes in the city's trash collection system that threaten jobs held by Teamster members.

Last week the city released an arbitrator's ruling that the city could privatize its trash collection, which would save an estimated $2.6 million this year, while eliminating 125 Teamster jobs. That ruling would also require the city to find jobs for those displaced refuse employees. On Tuesday, the Finkbeiner administration told council it would recommend moving ahead with automation under city oversight, rather than through privatization, which would still cost the city 70 refuse jobs. Council has not yet acted on the recommendation.

Among those jockeying to replace Mr. Sobczak are at-large Democrat Joe McNamara and District 4 Councilman Michael Ashford, who was president in 2008.

Council is expected to vote July 7 for one of its 11 remaining members to be president, and then to appoint someone to fill the six and a half months remaining in Mr. Sobczak's term.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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