The contest for an open seat on Toledo City Council created by the election of Councilman D. Michael Collins turned into a possible political free-for-all Thursday when two known Democratic contenders — Adam Martinez and Frank Szollosi — backed out on the same day.
Mr. Martinez, an at-large councilman who just lost his re-election bid, and Frank Szollosi, a former at-large councilman, in separate interviews cited the same reason for deciding not to seek the appointment: time constraints.
That left Karen Shanahan, a Democratic party volunteer who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2005 and 2007, as the only other Democrat who had applied to the party for the endorsement, but she won't get the seat by default.
Democratic Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said he would extend the deadline to apply for the party's endorsement, which expired last week, and postpone interviews at least a week.
“Hopefully we can encourage new candidates to apply,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said. “I’ve already talked to a couple of interested parties.”
Mrs. Shanahan, 67, is retired from a job in truck logistics, customer service, and dispatching for an intermodal company, and has an associate’s degree in transportation management from the University of Toledo. She called Mr. Szollosi and Mr. Martinez “conscientious public servants.”
“I have great respect for both Adam and Frank and appreciate how difficult it was to make this decision,” she said.
On the Republican side, Marcia Helman, 63, owner of a South Toledo ice cream store and former arts liaison for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, is planning to run and is backed by at-large Councilman Rob Ludeman.
But because Democrats have a majority of votes on council, a Democrat is likely to win the appointment that is expected to be made on Jan. 2 when Councilman Collins resigns to be sworn in as mayor, following his Nov. 5 victory over Mayor Mike Bell. Under the charter, council has 30 days beginning Jan. 2 to make a selection; then the appointment becomes the mayor’s responsibility.
Regardless of who council appoints, the choice will be up to voters on May 6, and District 2 is fertile ground for Republicans. The district includes South Toledo from the Toledo Zoo through the Heatherdowns and Glendale areas to Southwyck and Reynolds Corners.
Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook said the party will eventually endorse and said potential candidates have made themselves known.
“There are other people that the party is considering endorsing and the endorsement process is open and fluid and up to the executive committee,” he said.
Mr. Szollosi, 41, who has been meeting with political officials for about three weeks, said he realized that he will not have time for the job because he has a new assignment with his employer, the National Wildlife Federation in Ann Arbor. He will direct a statewide campaign in Ohio to promote federal policy changes to avert the effects of climate change. He said between his job and his family he would not have the time necessary to be a district councilman.
“The district seat was designed for citizens to step up and contribute citizen leadership for the city. I have the greatest confidence that civic-minded folks in South Toledo will step up and do that,” Mr. Szollosi said.
Mr. Szollosi was appointed to an at-large seat in 2003. He was elected that year and in 2005, and did not seek re-election in 2009.
Mr. Martinez, 35, a Realtor, who lost his re-election bid when he was edged out for the sixth at-large council seat by fellow Democrat Larry Sykes, said, “I was talking it over with my wife and being a district representative is a lot of responsibilities. I don't think I would have the time to commit to what needs to be done.”
Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.
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