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Kapszukiewicz declares run for Toledo mayor

Treasurer of Lucas Co. seeks Toledo top job

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Democratic Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz will kick off his campaign for mayor today, he told The Blade Monday, promising a campaign and an administration that will roll out big ideas to re-create the city of Toledo.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz’s entry into the race puts him in competition with Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Republican Councilman Tom Waniewski to be among the two top vote-getters in the Sept. 12 primary.

As a backdrop, Mr. Kapszukiewicz will use the solar-cell array next to the Toledo Zoo and visible from the Anthony Wayne Trail to launch his campaign. The Lucas County Land Bank, which was created under Mr. Kapszukiewicz, helped acquire the land for the solar cells that supply electricity to the zoo.

He vowed to bring an “outsider’s perspective” and to offer bold ideas.

“People are feeling that they’re not getting the services they should be getting for their taxes. Citizens know it shouldn’t be this hard to fill a pothole,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

He credited the private sector, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, the philanthropic community, and the social services community for many of the good things that are happening.

“The one missing piece of the puzzle is our city government,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he would merge city and county offices such as building inspection, payroll, information technology, economic development, and human resources to save money.

“We could do it tomorrow. It’s one of the great failures of city government that we haven’t done it,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

VIDEO: Wade Kapszukiewicz launches run for mayor

He called for a regional water authority to head off the loss of city water customers that he said would leave a declining number of Toledo residents to pay more of the costs of the water-treatment system.

He also said he would set an “aspirational goal,” specifically to guarantee access to prekindergarten education for all Toledo children, a goal that he said could include both public and private participation, but at a potential cost of $20 million to $30 million a year.

He said he would support declaring Lake Erie to be “impaired,” a designation that environmentalists are seeking to force upstream polluters — mainly farmers — to take responsibility for nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful algae blooms in the lake. They say the impairment designation turned around the deteriorating condition of Chesapeake Bay.

Mayor Hicks-Hudson has refused to join the call for the impairment designation. She said it would lead to increased enforcement for which Toledoans would have to pay while failing to bring enforcement to the agricultural sector. Instead, Ms. Hicks-Hudson has called on President Trump to sign an executive order to bring factions together to control pollution.

Mr. Kapszukiewiciz also promised a more beautiful city, with trees, flowers, and bike trails. He said he has been forced to admit to himself that former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, with whom he often fought on policy issues, was “a visionary” in his strong belief in a beautiful cityscape.

As to his record, Mr. Kapszukiewicz cited the land bank for which he led the effort to create. The land bank has brought $30 million of investment to Lucas County, resulted in 400 homes and commercial structures retained, and is on track to have razed 3,000 abandoned homes by 2020.

He said the treasurer’s office under his direction loaned the first $18 million to build Huntington Center.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz disclosed that he has amassed a campaign war chest of $180,000, which he said is made up of individual contributions from a cross-section of people.

Candidates for mayor face off first in the nonpartisan Sept. 12 primary. The two top finishers, regardless of party, will face off in the Nov. 7 general election.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz and Mayor Hicks-Hudson are Democrats, and the contest threatens to split the party down the middle, as has happened before when popular Democrats competed against each other.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz, 44, was appointed to city council and then won a seat in 1999. He was elected treasurer in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.

Mayor Hicks-Hudson, 65, was council president when she automatically became mayor upon the sudden death of Mayor D. Michael Collins in 2015. She was re-elected in a special election in November, 2015, holding off six rivals, to win with 35.6 percent of the vote.

The county Democratic Party voted March 13 to support Ms. Hicks-Hudson in a vote of the party’s executive committee. She has picked up the endorsement of the United Auto Workers’ union. Most other area unions have not yet taken endorsement votes.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson has cited four issues on which she would campaign: maintaining safe water, improving neighborhood safety, boosting economic growth, and implementing government efficiencies.

“I believe my record is pretty solid for what we’ve done in the two years of moving the city forward,” she said. “The unfortunate part of the job is having to raise money for a campaign, but that is something I will do. I intend to have a vigorous campaign and maintain running the city.

“The reality is that the most important poll is the one done on Election Day,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.

Mr. Waniewski, 60, declared his candidacy on April 12. Mr. Waniewski consistently has won re-election from the 5th Council District in West Toledo, an area where voter participation ranks consistently strong.

Mr. Waniewski promised to cut city spending, make sure the municipal capital improvement fund is no longer tapped for other expenses, and to quickly sign a regional water authority agreement.

“I am committed to cleaning up city hall with a vibrant, talented work force and putting city government on a sound fiscal path while providing the citizens of Toledo with the high level of services that they are paying for,” Mr. Waniewski said.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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