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Commissioner candidate seeks regionalization move

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Lucas County commissioner candidate Kevin Haddad speaks at a press conference Wednesday along the banks of the Maumee river outside One Maritime Plaza.

The Blade/Lisa Dutton
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Lucas County commissioner candidate Kevin Haddad says the county can obtain greater financial efficiency through the regionalization of several programs.

Two Lucas County commissioners are defending their seats in the Nov. 6 election.

Democratic incumbent Tina Skeldon Wozniak faces Mr. Haddad, who is running as an independent, and Republican Brent McCormack in a three-way race. Democratic incumbent Pete Gerken, who is seeking a third term, faces Republican John Marshall, who is an Air Force veteran and retired contractor.

Mr. Haddad, a Sylvania Township trustee, held a news conference on Wednesday at One Maritime Plaza to outline some of his ideas. He criticized Ms. Wozniak, a former social worker, for not having business experience. He said his 32 years as the owner of two hair salons employing nine people demonstrates that he knows how to find cost savings.

"We have one of the worst economies of all time and the status quo is just not working," Mr. Haddad said. "We need to have a more cost-effective government."

He was also critical of the current leadership at the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority and said he would be calling for the resignation of director James Gee at the TARTA meeting today. Mr. Haddad said he took issue with TARTA suing the Lucas County Board of Elections over wording in the referendum that would allow Sylvania Township to opt out.

Mr. Haddad's regionalization plan would include a public employee health-care plan of all public entities in the county including cities, schools, townships, TARTA, and the Toledo Zoo. He said the unions would support such a plan once they see how much money it would save their members.

"We're talking about county employees which haven't had a raise in eight or nine years," Mr. Haddad said. "This would be like a raise."

Ms. Wozniak responded that as a Toledo city councilman and Lucas County commissioner, she has made tough budgetary decisions.

"We have right-sized county government to the tune of $25 million since 2008," Ms. Wozniak said. "The county’s current health-care plan would need to be totally decimated for a change like this to occur, according to the Ohio Revised Code. This means we would have to change a fiscally sound and actuarially stable system with a reserve to a new and unproven program. The details of his proposal and who he consulted with from the health-care industry are questions that need to be examined in order to compare such programs."

Mr. Haddad said he also favors a regional water system. He says the current system, dating back to the 1930s, is inefficient, and the water is not being cleaned as well as it should be.

Ms. Wozniak said she is confident about the county's clean-water supply.

"An examination of a regional water system is under way, including the city and county in a deliberative way," Ms. Wozniak said. "Regional cooperation has been a priority of mine and my fellow county commissioners, with initiatives such as the Storm Water District, the Material Recovery Facility, regional water, a comprehensive economic development strategy, and solid waste. I will continue such efforts."

Mr. Haddad said he also believes the dog warden needs to add an afternoon shift that would cost less than the overtime now being paid to deputies when they are called out in the evening.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.

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