Lopez files petitions to run for Toledo mayor

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez  hands her petitions to run for mayor of Toledo to Lori Jacek at the Lucas County Board of Elections today inside One Government Center.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez hands her petitions to run for mayor of Toledo to Lori Jacek at the Lucas County Board of Elections today inside One Government Center.

Toledo mayoral candidate Anita Lopez filed her petitions to run for mayor today, promising to roll out an economic development platform over the next nine weeks, and claiming her leadership of a unionized government office is unique among the mayoral candidates.

Ms. Lopez, the Democratic Lucas County auditor, was the second candidate to file signature petitions for mayor. Independent D. Michael Collins, a city councilman from District 2, turned in his signature petitions on Monday.

Ms. Lopez was met outside Government Center by a crowd of about 30 union backers and leaders, including from the Northwestern Ohio Council of Building and Construction Trades, Teamsters, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as she arrived to file her petitions with the Lucas County Board of Elections.

She said her economic development efforts would not be undermined by her pro-union stance, and said she proved as auditor since 2007 that she could run an office with union employees and improve government service.

She said she is the only candidate who directed an office with union representation before taking office - assuming she takes office. Incumbent Mayor Mike Bell was chief of the city fire department, which has two unions, for 16 years. However, contracts with unions were negotiated by the mayor's office. Since becoming mayor, Mr. Bell has overseen a government with nine city unions.

"I believe that as I've demonstrated in the auditors's office, we have been able to lead a union work force to be very productive, very responsive, and we've cut the fat out of government. We know in this day and age you have to want to work. We've set that standard," Ms. Lopez said.

She compared herself with previous strong mayors Jack Ford, Carty Finkbeiner, and Mr. Bell, saying none of them was responsible for his own office with its own budget prior to becoming mayor.

"[I am] the only candidate that ran a government office successfully with a union contract that has demonstrated that she can do more with less and be very responsive," Ms. Lopez said.

Ms. Lopez said her campaign for mayor would focus on creating employment, improving safety in the neighborhoods, and public service.

"We need to make government work for the people and be accessible to the people. We're going to take government to the neighborhoods, we're going to take government to the businesses. We're going to make it accessible, easy, and responsive," Ms. Lopez said.

Along with Ms. Lopez and Mr. Collins, petitions are expected from Mayor Bell, an independent; City Councilman Joe McNamara, a Democrat; Alan Cox, an independent; Opal Covey, a Republican, and Michael Konwinski, a Libertarian.

In addition to being the deadline for mayoral candidates, Friday is the deadline for candidates interested in the six at-large council seats. So far, signatures have been filed by independents Sandy Spang and Theresa Gabriel; Republicans Ernest McCarthy and Alfonso Narvaez; incumbent Democrats Steve Steel and Shaun Enright, and Green candidate Sean Nestor.

Expected to file later today is Ron Johns, a Republican.

The Lucas County Board of Elections will determine whether the candidates have enough valid signatures to be on the ballot. State law requires 250 signatures for a council candidate and 750 for a mayoral candidate. The elections board has already certified Mr. McCarthy's petitions.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.