Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
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Sykes incident calls Democratic Party's judgment to question


Democratic Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes may have new legal headaches in the wake of his Thursday night arrest at an UpTown Toledo bar. But he does not have any political headaches, apparently, thanks to the reassurances that the Lucas County Democratic Party offers him its “full support.”

Mr. Sykes, 68, faces a first-degree misdemeanor assault charge after the incident in which he is accused of attacking Julian Mack, 33, a self-styled activist who often advocates locally for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This is not the temperament of a leader, and Thursday night’s incident ought to at least prompt a discussion among local party leaders about whether they should really stand behind Mr. Sykes. Are there no standards in Toledo politics?

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Julian Mack’s behavior should make him the sort of guy who Democratic politicians avoid like the plague.

In September he was the passenger in a car driven by endorsed Democratic Toledo school board candidate Ruth Leonard when he reportedly shouted, “[Expletive] the police” at Toledo police officers.

Ms. Leonard, who hit her brakes suddenly as she passed the officer, was cited for a fourth-degree misdemeanor of causing a risk of physical harm.

But the Lucas County Democratic Party did not even consider whether to revoke her endorsement at its meeting following the incident.

“Nobody brought it up,” Chairman Josh Hughes said.

Likewise, Democrats reflexively assured Mr. Sykes that he would not lose their endorsement the day after his arrest.

How could they not even want to talk about it before deciding that? No one in the party leadership wants to discuss whether this kind of behavior is out of line with what they expect from a public servant?

“The Lucas County Democratic Party stands behind their endorsement and is still in full support of its Candidate,” the party said in a prepared statement Friday morning.

Mr. Sykes’ campaign manager called Mr. Mack a “troublemaker,” which he certainly seems to be. But if he is the well-known troublemaker that the Sykes campaign makes him out to be, how could a seasoned and experienced elected leader not know better than to take the troublemaker’s bait?

Both of these incidents raise questions not just about the judgment of candidates but of the Lucas County Democratic Party. If incidents like these do not even warrant a discussion about whether candidates still have the party’s backing, just what would it take to lose a Democratic endorsement?

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