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Toledo City Council elected Paula Hicks-Hudson as its president during a special meeting Tuesday, ending a week-long deadlock that began when Joe McNamara stepped down as council's leader.
“We have some challenges ahead for all of us,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said after an 11-1 vote of support. “I am humbled by the vote.”
Republican Tom Waniewski cast the only dissenting vote against Ms. Hicks-Hudson, a Democrat.
That 11-1 vote was taken after an 8-4 tally that was also in favor of Ms. Hicks-Hudson. The first vote’s majority included all of council’s Democrats, including Ms. Hicks-Hudson. Republican George Sarantou received the other four votes, from himself, fellow Republicans Mr. Waniewski and Rob Ludeman, and independent D. Michael Collins.
After losing, Mr. Sarantou called for another vote to show “unanimous” support, in an apparent effort to show wider support for Ms. Hicks-Hudson. Mr. Waniewski denied the new president unanimous support.
“I am tired of the [Democrats] not coming over to the right side,” Mr. Waniewski said. “George has shown great statesmanship. … We always support the Democrats.”
Mr. Waniewski pointed out that Mr. Sarantou cast the deciding vote to appoint Democratic Councilman Shaun Enright to council.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson is the second black woman to be elected Toledo City Council president. Wilma Brown was first when she was elected in 2010, serving two years.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson and Councilman Adam Martinez, both Democrats, and Mr. Sarantou were each nominated last week to be president, but none received the necessary seven majority votes.
The president’s seat went up for grabs after Mr. McNamara relinquished the post to concentrate on his mayoral campaign. He remains on council.
As city council president, Ms. Hicks-Hudson is first in the line of succession should the mayor resign or become incapacitated.
A native of the southwestern Ohio city of Hamilton and a mother of two daughters, Ms. Hicks-Hudson moved to Toledo in 1982 after graduating from law school at the University of Iowa.
Her first Toledo job was a two-year stint at the Toledo Legal Aid Society, where she was a staff attorney and director of a senior legal-services program.
After that, Ms. Hicks-Hudson spent five years as a Lucas County assistant prosecutor in the child-support division.
Other career highlights include posts as city council’s legislative director from May, 1998, to June, 2002, and also as director of the Lucas County Board of Elections from March, 2004, to January, 2005.
She was chief legal counsel for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management from February, 2007, through the end of the Strickland administration in 2011.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson was appointed to the District 4 council seat in January, 2011, after Michael Ashford was elected to the 48th House District in the Ohio General Assembly.
She was elected to a full four-year council term in November, 2011, defeating Green Party candidate Anita Rios.
District 4 includes central-city Toledo and the Old West End.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson said she would not advocate removing Republican councilmen from their committee chairmanships. She also said she would not run for Toledo Municipal Court Judge because she was elected council president.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.