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Kaczala widow accuses Lopez of "cronyism" as auditor race heats up

Gina Marie Kaczala, the Republican candidate for Lucas County auditor, on Wednesday accused her Democratic opponent of filling her staff with friends and political cronies.

Ms. Kaczala, widow of the late Larry Kaczala, who was county auditor from 1993 to 2007, is running to replace Democrat Anita Lopez in the Nov. 2 election.

In a news conference in front of Government Center Wednesday, Ms. Kaczala said Ms. Lopez eliminated experienced and certified employees to make room for inexperienced political supporters.

"Basically Anita Lopez has treated the auditor's office as her own personal checking account, spending money with no regard to the taxpayers of Lucas County. That's nepotism and cronyism at its worst," Ms. Kaczala said.

Ms. Kaczala named eight people who worked for Mr. Kaczala who, she said, were replaced by less qualified people under Ms. Lopez.

But Ms. Lopez fired back, saying that she has reduced spending in the auditor's office since she took over in 2007, saving more than $500,000 a year in salaries and benefits, while making the office more efficient and reducing what she called erroneous property values.

She also said she has reduced the total payroll from 117 people in Mr. Kaczala's last year as auditor to 92 today.

"The bottom line is that there are two different results. Their results [are] higher spending, higher [property] values, and higher taxes. My administration has focused on less spending, fair values, and lower taxes for citizens," Ms. Lopez said.

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