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Published: Friday, 2/22/2013

Council-chief candidate may oust GOP panel leaders

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Paula Hicks-Hudson, one of three councilmen nominated for council’s top spot Tuesday night, said it was “too early to tell” if she would seek to remove her Republican colleagues from their spots running committees. Paula Hicks-Hudson, one of three councilmen nominated for council’s top spot Tuesday night, said it was “too early to tell” if she would seek to remove her Republican colleagues from their spots running committees.
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One of the Democratic Toledo councilmen vying to become the legislative body’s next president has not ruled out the partisan move of pushing Republicans off of their committee chairmanships.

Paula Hicks-Hudson, one of three councilmen nominated for council’s top spot Tuesday night, said it was “too early to tell” if she would seek to remove her Republican colleagues from their spots running committees.

Council deadlocked Tuesday night and was unable to select a council president. To be elected council president, a member needs at least 7 votes out of the possible 12.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson received five votes from herself, Shaun Enright, Tyrone Riley, Steven Steel, and Lindsey Webb — all fellow Democrats. Democratic Councilman Adam Martinez was supported by himself, Joe McNamara, and Mike Craig, also fellow Democrats. Republican George Sarantou received votes from himself, Republicans Rob Ludeman and Tom Waniewski, and independent D. Michael Collins.

Several councilmen said they heard rumors after Tuesday night’s meeting that Republicans and the independent could get pushed out of those committee chairmanships. Both Mr. Martinez and Mr. Sarantou told The Blade they had no intention of changing committee structures.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson, however, left the door open.

“I think right now it is too early to tell to see how that is going to work out,” she said Wednesday. “I haven’t gotten that far … I can’t answer yes or no on that.”

Ms. Hicks-Hudson, a lawyer, also confirmed that she has considered running this year for Toledo Municipal Court judge but said she would not if elected council president.

Removing the three Republicans and Mr. Collins from the chairmanships would not be automatic since it needs a majority council approval.

It would fall in line with the personal belief of Yvonne Harper, Lucas County Democratic Party executive director, who took to Facebook last week to publicly question why Mr. McNamara during his time as council president allowed Republicans to act as committee chairmen.

“My question with Democratic control — why [are] Democrats not chair in all committees,” she posted on the Web site on Feb. 13.

“That was just my personal belief,” Ms. Harper said Wednesday. “I put that out there so people would know what is going on and to see what kind feedback I would get.”

Mr. Martinez said the current chairmanships make sense.

“At this point I would kind of keep them the same,” Mr. Martinez said. “I think we have a good core group, and each person has their own area of expertise.”

There are eight council committees. Mr. Sarantou, a financial adviser, is chairman of finance; Mr. Waniewski, a self-employed consultant, is the chairman of intergovernmental relations; Mr. Ludeman, a Realtor, is the chairman of economic development, and Mr. Collins, a retired police officer, is the chairman of public safety.

Mr. Sarantou said he heard Tuesday night his chairmanship was in danger if Ms. Hicks-Hudson was elected but later said she told him that neither he nor any of the others would be reassigned.

“Someone told me that she said she was going to move all the Republicans and the independent but that I would be retained because my term ends Dec. 31,” Mr. Sarantou said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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