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Published: Wednesday, 3/7/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Copeland tops Seaman, Eff in run for recorder's office

BLADE STAFF
Phil Copeland. Phil Copeland.
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Toledo City Councilman Phil Copeland breezed to victory Tuesday night over two candidates to win the Democratic primary for Lucas County recorder.

Mr. Copeland will face Republican George Sarantou in the November general election. Mr. Sarantou, also a city councilman, ran without opposition in the primary. He failed in 2010 and 2006 to win election to county commissioner.

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Mr. Copeland won with an unofficial 57 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent for James Seaman, an Oregon councilman, and 14 percent for Kevin Eff, a Sylvania Township attorney.

Mr. Copeland said Tuesday night that going door-to-door to meet people paid off in his nomination bid.

"This proves again that hard work pays off. I like people. I like working with people. I like being a public servant," he said. "I put myself out there so that people know me."

An at-large councilman since 2005, he ran unsuccessfully in 2006 in the Democratic primary for county commissioner, losing to Ben Konop, who went on to defeat Mr. Sarantou in the general election.

Mr. Copeland, 66, is business manager of the 1,500-member Laborers' Local 500 on Ashland Avenue. He joined the union in 1966 and held the office of secretary treasurer before being elected business manager in 2007. He was appointed to council in 2005, winning election in 2006 and re-election in 2010. He has two years left on his council term.

Mr. Seaman, 61, who has served on Oregon City Council for 22 years, said he believed his efforts to win the primary were negatively impacted by local Democratic campaign literature that appeared to show Mr. Copeland had the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Mr. Copeland was among 16 state and county Democratic candidates promoted in the mailing aimed at helping Miss Kaptur in her bid to retain the 9th District seat. Mr. Seaman and Mr. Eff were the only candidates not on the "Democratic team."

"I was very hurt. I felt I was put at an extreme disadvantage. When I got into the race I didn't expect I would be facing something like this," Mr. Seaman said. "I want to thank everyone who supported me and helped me."

Mr. Copeland said the campaign literature was open to all candidates.

"I don't see anything wrong with it. We put our names together to be a team on that card," he said.

Mr. Seaman was on the Oregon Board of Education from 1979 to 1983. He worked 30 years for Toledo Public Schools as a psychologist.

He said that if elected he would evaluate the office to determine whether it would be beneficial to streamline operations and expand online services, but he also saw the need to safeguard personal information.

Mr. Eff, 31, who was a first-time candidate for office, said he was disappointed with the outcome but said it was not unexpected.

"From the beginning, I was the underdog. I had the disadvantage in not having the name recognition and not being an entrenched politician in Lucas County. I tried to emphasize throughout the race the inescapable fact that I am the only candidate who has ever been in the recorder's office."

Mr. Eff, who graduated from the University of Toledo college of law in 2010, said he has conducted business at other recorder's offices in northwest Ohio, providing him with the needed insight on improving efficiencies and customer relations.

-- Mark Reiter



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