Candidates for mayor debated right-to-work and other issues in a forum held tonight at the downtown branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.
Mayor Mike Bell declined to say whether he supports a right-to-work law, and advised keeping an open mind based on the effect such a law would have on the community.
That put him at odds with his leading opponents, Democrats Anita Lopez and Joe McNamara, and independent Councilman D. Michael Collins.
"Where I come down is I'm going to do whatever is right for citizens. We're going to do whatever is necessary to keep jobs here. We have to keep an open mind to what is going on so you can be extremely competitive as a city," Mr. Bell said.
Ms. Lopez, currently the Lucas County auditor, said, "I will do anything in my power to defeat the effort to bring right to work to Ohio and any public official who supports it or can't stand against it."
She said, "Right-to-work laws is an attack on employees and their salaries and benefits."
Mr. Collins said the auto industry in Toledo was saved in part thanks to the willingness of the United Auto Workers to negotiate difficult concessions to accommodate economic realities.
"Right to work is in my opinion not the solution because the union is not the problem," Mr. Collins said.
The forum was sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition and moderated by Michael Miller, editor-in-chief of the Toledo Free Press, and Jim Blue, anchor and news director of WNWO-TV, Channel 24.
Also participating were candidates Michael Konwinski, Libertarian; Alan Cox, independent, and Opal Covey, independent.
Ms. Covey and Mr. Konwinski endorsed right-to-work legislation. Mr. Cox, who is the president of a city employee union, AFSCME Local 2058, said he supports the right of people not to be in unions and said unions should not have to represent people who choose not to associate with them.
"A person ought to have a right to determine whether to be a union member or not. If someone chooses to not be in a union don't come to me to represent you," Mr Cox said.