Update: City Council candidate profilesWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Editors note: We will be updating throughout the day with additional profiles.
Councilwoman Paula Hicks-Hudson for District 4 hasn’t had much of a break from the campaign trail. Hicks-Hudson was appointed to former Councilman Michael Ashford’s seat in January and ran again to retain the seat in May. “I’m in constant campaigning mode,” Hicks-Hudson said with a laugh.
Hicks-Hudson, who grew in Hamilton, Ohio, received her master’s degree in communications development from Colorado State University and her law degree from the University of Iowa. She came to Toledo to work for the Toledo Legal Aid Society in 1982. Later, she served as legislative director for Toledo City Council. Prior to joining council, she commuted to Columbus to serve as chief counsel in the Office of Budget and Management. Hicks-Hudson is married with two adult daughters and seven grandchildren, and is currently starting her own private practice.
She is proud of the response she has gotten from her constituents during her tenure. “I think the biggest thing is being able to respond and be available for the needs of the constituents. That’s one of the things I hear all the time that someone listened to them. Even if you couldn’t fix that problem, at least you responded,” Hicks-Hudson said. “I wake up at four in the morning sometimes, thinking ‘did I cover everything?’” she added.
Fixing the roads remains a priority for Hicks-Hudson. “A 7-year-old boy said, ‘When are you gonna fix the potholes? I tried to ride my bike and it got damaged because of the potholes.’”
In addition, Hicks-Hudson will try to bolster enforcement in response to the dumping of construction supplies in her district. She said she also would continue to try to prevent the stealing and distributing of metal from houses, a growing problem in Toledo.
Hicks-Hudson also serves with Mayor Mike Bell on the Mayor’s Coalition on Hope that is looking for “a holistic approach, not patchwork [approach]” to prevent crime. She added different approaches are needed based on the ages and motivations of the individuals. “I’ve been talking with police about heightening patrol, but the current response is the manpower issue. I’m looking at what other cities have done to address these concerns,” she said.
Councilman Mike Craig of District 3 has 900 email contacts—and he estimates 600 of those are constituents. In response to his opponent in the primary Shaun Enright’s claim that Craig is not involved enough with constituents, Craig said, “You don’t get that many names in your contacts by not processing constituent complaints.”
Craig, a Democrat who took office in May 2006, went to the University of Toledo to study personnel management. He previously was an auto-title clerk for the Lucas County Clerk of Courts, but had to resign because the law director said he couldn’t have two government jobs at once. Craig has been married for 31 years with three adult children and a granddaughter.
Of his tenure, he said, “I’m actually pretty proud that we’ve been able to keep a balanced budget over the past five years,” adding he also “pretty much shepherded the Marina District from abandoned factory land. [I] was there for the legislation to get the Marina built, the road built.” He added eventually there will about $200 million worth of construction jobs involved in building the Marina, which was sold to Dashing Pacific Group Ltd.
He also listed the selling and remediation of the land for the upcoming casino to Penn National Gaming Inc. as another success. “We will definitely have the first one in the state,” Craig said.
Craig also recently spearheaded the allocation of $650,000 toward tearing down abandoned houses instead of Mayor Mike Bell’s original plan of developing Capital Commons. Neighborhood upkeep will continue to be important to Craig, he said. “The past 10 years, 26,000 have left Toledo. Of those 26,000, none of them left because they didn’t like downtown. They left because they all had a problem with their neighborhoods,” he said. Craig said he is looking to form partnerships with the private and public sectors to rehab other dilapidated areas.
“To turn the city around, to turn the district around, it can’t be done by one person. You have to have a team and I think I’ve put a good team together,” he said, listing his successful relationships with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Neighborhood Housing Services of Toledo and LISC Toledo.
“Sometimes, I’m clumsy, but I understand the issues and I’m extremely passionate about my neck of the woods,” said Councilwoman Lindsay Webb of District 6, who is running in a contested race for her seat in the primary.
Webb, who became councilwoman Jan. 2008, is married with a son and four stepchildren, and expecting her second son three days after the primary. She received her law degree from the University of Toledo and works at the National Employment Law Project in Ann Arbor.
She is currently trying to form a panel on parks and recreation. Webb said offering better parks and recreation will keep more working families in the city. “Because we live and die by income tax, working families are really the bread and butter for this city,” she said.
Webb also helped put together the Youth Development Steering Committee that will put out a recommendation on possible legislative changes this fall. “I’m excited about that because as our resources have diminished, we haven’t paid attention to the youth in our community maybe in a way we had in the past,” she said. Webb along with Councilman Tom Waniewski is also working to put together a community-based coalition to develop a business-corridor plan along Sylvania Ave.
Although, “it certainly created some ugly press and furthered the idea I can be a bit of a renegade,” Webb said she stands behind her decision earlier this year to walk out during a vote to increase water and sewer rates
“It is clear to me that I did the right thing by stopping the exorbitant increase of the sewer rates,” Webb said, adding council went back to the drawing board and came up with a more acceptable plan.
Street repairs are also crucial to Webb. Council originally voted to allocate $750,000 toward street repairs instead of Mayor Mike Bell’s plan to fund Promenade Park improvements, but Bell vetoed their decision. Four council members upheld that veto Sept. 6. Webb said she is disappointed in the councilmembers’ votes and the legislation to fund the Promenade Park improvements has not yet been passed by council.
Her opponent Douglas DeCamp filed an election protest against Webb because she reportedly filed her acceptance of nomination late. Although Webb said she remembers mailing her acceptance on time, postmarked evidence showed she did not. “There is and was no attempt at a “cover up” as the Lucas County Board of Elections certified me for the ballot prior to the acceptance,” said Webb in an email. The protest was also filed after the deadline, Webb said, and a hearing on the issue in front of the Lucas County Board of the Elections was cancelled. “I think I am essentially being used a pawn to clean house at the board of elections by the chairman of the Republican party,” Webb said.
“I’m not the establishment. I’m the anti-establishment. I am not the anointed candidate, the blessed candidate,” said Aji Green, a Democrat and candidate for the District 1 council seat in the upcoming primary. Green, a legal researcher at D’Angelo & Szollosi Co., L.P.A., ran for the Toledo School Board in 2009. His experiences with other politicians during that campaign shaped his current run. He remembered someone coming up to him while he was campaigning and saying, “Once you make it, you owe them.”
“I didn’t like it one bit,” Green said, adding that he believes some of the other candidates in the primary would not have run if they hadn’t been tapped by current officials. “I don’t want to be beholden to anyone,” said Green, who is now running a more grassroots campaign.
Green, originally from Marianna, Ark., received his bachelor’s degree in management and human resources from the University of Toledo in 2006. He plans to go back to graduate school to study law and political science eventually. Previously, Green also was a supervisor at Jeep’s North Toledo Assembly Plant for six years.
Part of what makes him the ideal candidate is that he is a regular person, Green said. “I’ve been unemployed so I know what’s going out there with people who can’t pay their bills and keep their house,” he reiterated. He plans to get citizens back to work with projects like the Marina District and Jeep expansion.
If elected, he will also push for reallocating funds to hire more police officers and firefighters, Green emphasized. After he saw a vacant floor of offices at the police station, Green said he knew wanted to fill more police positions.
He also would continue to fight Senate Bill 5 and push for more collective-bargaining rights. In February, city council passed a resolution against the bill that limits collective bargaining.
Green also pledged to work with both Democrats and Republicans if elected. “We all need to be on the same page, Democrats and Republicans. Period,” Green said. He added that he felt a split in the local Democratic party. “A and B team still exists,” he said, adding, “It’s underlying. You don’t see it. Everyone’s holding hands.” Despite these conflicts, Green said, “At the end of the day, my job is to fight for the people of Toledo.”
Being a political independent has enabled Councilman D. Michael Collins of District 2 to be free of having any party’s will imposed on him, he said. The fiscal conservative who is “sensitive to human issues” is up again for his seat in the primary.
Collins, a former U.S. Marines Corps Corporal, took office Jan. 2008. He joined the Toledo Police Department in 1973 and stayed there until 1999 when he retired as a detective. He received his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Toledo in 1998 and became a visiting professor there. Collins is married with three grown daughters and six grandchildren.
During his time on council, Collins said he is proud of helping transition the city from a 16 percent recycling rate to a 75 percent rate, uncovering more than $22 million in delinquencies for city income tax and speaking at the house and senate debates against Senate Bill 5.
Several candidates said laws like Collins’ recently passed legislation that gives police more power over panhandlers already exist. However, Collins said that in March 2008, former Law Director John Madigan ordered police to cease enforcement of solicitation laws because of constitutional conflicts. However, recent court legislation has changed and provided new language for laws, giving officers two options, Collins said
“One is from the strictest language of the law. The other is in a discretionary application of the law. In the strictest application, citations and arrests may occur. In the discretionary application, the officer may direct the individual to a social agency, which is far better equipped than our criminal justice system to deal with these issues,” Collins explained.
If re-elected, he would “absolutely” prioritize funding to hire more police officers, adding that at 550 police officers, Toledo has fewer officers per capita than any other city of its size in the U.S. “We have a very dedicated and professional police department that is anemic in only one regard and that is manpower,” he said.
Collins also said he speaks with a principal at Southwyck about every six weeks and has spoken with a developer interested in the area. He added, however, “For me to say to you, ‘I will see that Southwyck is developed’ is a gross misrepresentation of truth and if anyone would say ‘I will commit that Southwyck will be developed,’ my only question would be ‘do you have the check to buy the property?’ because if you don’t, you have no controls of the property.”
Before going into private practice, Tyrone Riley, candidate for the District 1 city council seat in the Sept. 13 primary, was a legislative aid to the late Rep. Casey Jones. His experience as an aid and his stances on economic development are what led Councilwoman Wilma Brown to endorse him as her successor. Brown is barred from running again because of term limits.
Riley, a Democrat, received his J.D. from Southern University Law School and worked for Jones from 1983-88. “As a legislative aid, I handled a lot of constituent issues pertaining to issues in the district,” Riley said. He has been married for 28 years with two grown children.
Part of his plan for District 1 is the creation of enterprise or empowerment zones, where businesses would be encouraged to locate, possibly through tax breaks, street cleaning and grants for interior and exterior upkeep. Riley also said he would apply for other grants to help area businesses and encourage them to start hiring.
This summer, Riley was displeased about some local pools being closed because of budget issues. “By the pool not being open, that means some child isn’t learning to swim and some kids don’t have activities for summer,” he said. Riley hopes providing more activities for children will curtail youth crime. “When I grew up, there were plenty of activities for kids. Neighborhoods were a lot different; there was more energy and vitality in the neighborhoods and crime wasn’t as rampant,” Riley said.
He also added, “The focus [on youth crime] has to be on prevention and I define prevention with three main components: education, parental responsibility and personal accountability. Too many young kids are being incarcerated without understanding their potential or capability.”
The recent legislation giving police more authority to deal with panhandlers also gave Riley some pause. “Panhandling has been around for centuries. I do not believe this ordinance will prevent people from panhandling. It may have a negative impact on an already strained city budget. A study/report needs to be commissioned to determine its impact on the city budget,” Riley said.
In the end, Riley’s more than 20 years worth of local law experience make him the best candidate, he said. “My thoughts are I’m the best qualified candidate and I have the experience to go along with the education,” he said.
Brown backed him up and said, “My district is very diverse so I needed someone who had worked in politics before.”
When Jeremy Demagall, raised in a southeastern suburb of Cleveland, came to the University of Toledo in 1991, he “really fell in love with the town then.” Not only did he stick around, but he decided to run for the District 2 city council seat in the upcoming primary.
Since college, Demagall, a Republican, has worked in the Lucas County Auditor’s Office and Secretary of State’s Office and as an insurance agent. He got married in 1996 and has three daughters and one son.
He became the deputy-director of Lucas County Board of Elections in 2008, but was fired after being accused of miscounting votes in the Lucas County Commissioners race last year. Previously, Demagall said he counted the votes based on provisions he was given, but Secretary of State Jon Husted called for his and former co-worker, Linda Howe to be fired and the BOE voted to remove them. “I think in retrospect, I don’t know if the board members would have voted the same way, but it’s hard to tell,” Demagall said.
His priority is adding jobs to the District, which will not only cause people to stay in area, but also increase property values. “Everything that’s happening in District 2 goes back to the jobs that are leaving this area,” Demagall said. He added as a councilman he would work with business owners and help facilitate new businesses locating in Toledo. Demagall said conservative influences like his own have led to Cincinnati being home to several Fortune 500 companies and Toledo should enjoy the same success.
Balancing the budget at the BOE was another task that prepared Demagall to serve on council. The $4 million budget was slashed to $2.4 million so “we cut out a lot of the process that was wasteful,” Demagall said, adding most of the costs were cut by combining precincts.
Demagall is against the legislation council recently passed that gives police more citation-issuing powers over panhandlers. His opponent, Councilman D. Michael Collins proposed the legislation. “D. Michael Collins is either pushing this issue because he’s ignorant of the fact that it’s already in the Toledo charter or he’s just trying to make a name for himself,” Demagall said, adding, “As a Christian, it’s up to me to decide to help someone out.”
While having careers in the auto and technology industries, Douglas DeCamp, candidate for the District 6 seat in the city council primary, kept an eye on the political scene.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics, just see how it impacts your life everyday: how you drive your car, where you cross the road, the roads that you drive on, the water that you drink,” said DeCamp, a Republican.
DeCamp, raised in Quinnesec, Mich., came to Ohio to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima. In 1997, he became an auto-technician in Toledo, but had to stop after he injured his back in a hockey accident. DeCamp later went back to school at Owens Community College and Stautzenberger College to study technology and currently works as a solutions engineer at HCR ManorCare, a care-provider for the elderly.
Properly balancing the budget is important to DeCamp, who said budget cuts are necessary sometimes instead of continually shuffling funds. DeCamp does not advocate paying for more police officers at present like other candidates because of budgetary restraints. Rather, DeCamp suggested concerned citizens contact the local Block Watch. If elected and the budget allows, he said would work to hire 50 more police officers next year. DeCamp also said he would rather see the $750,000 that Mayor Bell suggested go toward Promenade Park improvements go for the road repairs that council originally voted for.
To draw in new businesses, DeCamp said he would restructure taxes “even if it’s just as simple as removing the three-quarter income tax to businesses.” DeCamp would also work to place less restrictions on businesses even if it meant not requiring new companies to hire local workers, although he would personally encourage it.
Despite a contentious election, DeCamp said of opponent Councilwoman Lindsay Webb, “She started out really strong. I was actually impressed.” However, he added, “she kind of fell off the map after the first year and a half.” The Lucas County Republican Party requested Webb be removed from the primary because she did not submit a timely acceptance of nomination. DeCamp said of the situation, “She’s pointed the finger at everybody but herself.”
DeCamp had his own campaign dispute when Lucas County Democratic Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler filed a complaint against him June 29 with the Ohio Elections Commission. The complaint claimed DeCamp hadn’t selected a campaign treasurer, but reportedly already spent campaign funds. DeCamp said he had spent $100 of his own money and had not received any donations at the time. DeCamp also reported that he chose Brandon Everhardt to be his treasurer and traveled to Arizona around the time the complaint was filed. He gave Everhardt his designation forms to sign and drop off, but the complaint was filed before the designation was given to the Board of Elections. Everhardt dropped the papers off the next day after DeCamp learned of the complaint.
The OEC requested a notarized letter explaining the situation and DeCamp hasn’t heard of the issue since. “I guess my punishment was like $5 in mail,” he said with a laugh.
Green Party candidate for the District 4 primary Anita Rios said of council, “I think we need people who think outside the box.” Rios counts herself as one of those thinkers.
Rios is the daughter of Mexican migrant workers and has been married for 30 years with two adult children. Rios, a University of Toledo grad, was the union head at the Zepf Community Mental Health Center and ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 and 2010. She is currently a part-time patient advocate at the Center for Choice and president of the National Organization for Women’s Toledo Area Chapter.
Her Green Party affiliation largely informs her platforms. “We are unfailingly, unapologetically progressive,” Rios said. If elected, she would locally push for the legalization of marijuana to save money on court appearances and keep young people out of jail. “Let’s tax it. This is a huge, underground economy that we don’t benefit from,” Rios added.
She supports gay marriage in Toledo partially because it would be economically beneficial. “If we were the first municipality in Ohio to do that, it would have people coming up, it would increase tourism to the city,” she said. Although gay marriage is typically a state issue, Rios cited New Paltz, N.Y. Mayor Jason West marrying same-sex couples in 2004, “although, he was promptly arrested.”
Rios is also a large proponent of working with unions. “I was raised in a three-room shack without plumbing and electricity, and my dad got a job at Jeep and my life changed. And I value that. I value what the union did for my father,” she said.
She criticized some recent economic developments in Toledo, saying, “I think that some of the economic development plans that have been put forward, primarily from the Bell administration, might have worked in the 1960s, but they’re not going to work now.” Rios listed authorizing the purchase of The Marina District by Dashing Pacific Ltd. as one poor decision. “If our workers don’t have money, they’re not going to have money to buy those condos or go to those restaurants,” she said.
Helping the youth of Toledo ultimately inspired Rios to run for council. Rios plans to use $2,000 of her potential salary to fund a council internship program and said she believes creating youth opportunities will also cut back on gang violence. “People with a place in the community don’t vandalize your car,” she explained.
Sean Nestor’s new yard signs read “Sean Nestor for City Council, Green Party, ‘I hate yard signs.’” Nestor, the Green Party primary candidate for the District 6 seat, carries this out-of-box thinking into his politics.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics that’s not as conventional as you might think,” said Nestor, a systems administrator for Seymour & Associates/MassMutual and a technology instructor at Owens Community College. Nestor is a graduate of Owens and the University of Toledo, where he studied computer science. He became active in the Green Party because he said its views most closely reflect his and because Republicans and Democrats are more interested in their careers instead of their constituents. “Throw your support behind a third party and cultivate that instead buying into that big machine,” Nestor said.
If elected, Nestor, a proponent of transparent government, said he would like to make the city council website easier to use and provide a simpler summary of the budget and legislation. “I feel like if you try to navigate that stuff as an average concerned citizen, that can be very cumbersome,” he explained.
Fostering small business growth is another part of Nestor’s platform. “We can’t focus so much on big business that we forget small businesses,” he said. Nestor is in favor of offering tax incentives for small businesses, but not larger ones. “It’s not unfair to assume they would pay their fair share of taxes,” he reiterated.
Nestor also said he believes if the city invests in more renewable energy sources, money will be saved on energy-consumption costs in the long run. “If we can integrate solar and wind power to fulfill our city’s energy cost, we can fulfill that slogan on the city’s website (A Business Friendly City of the Future),” he said.
Talking to constituents also gives Nestor ideas like passing a resolution against hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting oil and gas by using high-pressurized liquids, because of threats it may pose to the environment and people’s health.
While Nestor’s own yard signs show he is not a fan of the pomp that goes with campaigning, he also said he wasn’t a fan of his Republican opponent Douglas DeCamp’s signs. DeCamp’s signs say “he won’t walk out” on the vote, a reference to incumbent Councilwoman Lindsay Webb leaving the chambers during a vote on water rates earlier this year. “That’s the sort of, the kind of smear campaign that puts people off,” Nestor said. He added he also did not care for Webb’s reaction to a request filed by the Lucas County Republican Party to remove her from the ballot because she didn’t file paperwork on time.
Webb said she remembered mailing her acceptance of nomination in time although reportedly postmarked evidence showed she did not. “My first reaction was, well, she has the support,” Nestor said, adding, “As the days went on, that kind of shifted a little bit. It sounded like she was deliberately lying to keep herself on the ballot.”
Radio-personality and city council District 1 primary candidate Schylar Meadows uses her radio show on 107.3 “The Juice” to make sure her listeners are informed about public affairs. If elected to council, Meadows said she would continue to ensure her constituents are in-the-know. “For me, it’s a continuation of working in public affairs, but now it’s being able to enact laws to help people,” she said. Meadows, a Democrat, also ran for the state representative seat for District 48 last year.
Meadows, who also works in health care, said she would organize town halls and newsletters for citizens if elected, and also utilize the Internet to keep constituents informed. “It’s the public officials’ responsibility to make sure citizens are involved,” she emphasized, adding she will organize “online town halls” for citizens unable to attend in person. “A lot of people don’t realize what’s at stake until the legislation’s been passed,” she said.
Studying at the University of Toledo is another one of Meadows’ jobs. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in the individualized studies program, focusing on history, criminal justice and management. Being a student provides Meadows with an opportunity to work with UT. “It’s a chance to reach out to people that attend the university because it’s not just 18 year old, 19 year old students. It’s a wide demographic,” she said.
If elected, Meadows said she plans to work with UT’s business incubation services that provide space and support to start-up businesses. She would also foster green-energy company growth and plan a District 1 job fair “with jobs that are actually going to land in the district,” she said. Meadows would also form a District 1 business roundtable, where small and large business owners and teen and retired entrepreneurs could provide feedback on the economy.
In addition, Meadows said she would encourage block watches and plan youth activities to curtail crime. “I think the important thing to remember is the safety of the citizens has to be first and foremost,” she said. Her prior work with organizations such as the Ottawa Community Development Corporation Board and the Toledo Lucas County Commission on Minority Health has enabled her to be sensitive to many of these issues, she added.
Reaching out to citizens remains the most important part of her “citizen-centered” campaign. “There are all kinds of people in District 1 and if you’re going to be a good elected official then you strive to reach out to them and find out what their concerns are,” Meadows said. The fact that the District 1 primary has seven candidates speaks well of the district and its citizens, she said. “I would just encourage constituents to make the decision on the best candidate and their ideals,” Meadows stressed.
Growing up in a rundown neighborhood has prepared Alfonso Narvaez to serve as city councilman for District 4, he said. Narvaez, a sociology student at Lourdes University, lives near Riverside Park and said, “In my neighborhood, you can’t sit outside without seeing guns or a prostitution deal go down.”
Narvaez, the treasurer for the Lucas County Republican Party’s central committee, ran for the District 4 seat last spring after former Councilman Michael Ashford became a representative for District 48. Narvaez decided to run because, “I’ve always liked the atmosphere surrounding [politics] and I wanted to show people not all teenagers are bad people,” he said. Narvaez, now 20 years old, lost to Councilwoman Paula Hicks-Hudson, but despite going up against her again, Narvaez said he feels confident.
To curb the violence he feels so strongly about, Narvaez suggested more programs against crime in Toledo Public Schools, in addition to being vigilant in neighborhood watches. “I live in the neighborhood. I hear the gunshots,” he said. Narvaez also believes cutting down on crime and cleaning up vacant, dilapidated houses will attract more businesses. “Businesses don’t want to move into an area when it’s not safe and the area’s not clean,” he said.
Narvaez also feels strongly about championing his district and neighborhood. “Those residents feel forgotten about,” he said, adding that his neighborhood was the last to get trash bins when the city switched to privatized garbage-collection in the spring.
Democrats have also offered their support for his campaign, said Narvaez, who added he is a Republican because “I’m just against tax and spending.” He was adamantly against raising the water rate earlier this year and still believes taxes need to be lowered overall.
Despite being the youngest candidate on the primary ballot, Narvaez said his experiences have prepared him to be councilman. “Race, age doesn’t matter. What matters is talking to people,” said Narvaez, who was valedictorian of his class at Achieve Career Preparatory Academy. His neighbors and potential constituents inspire him. “They’re really hard-working. They really want to improve their neighborhoods,” Narvaez said.
When electrician and executive board member of the Lucas County Democratic Precinct Committee, Shaun Enright talked to his neighbors, they came to one consensus. “We decided we didn’t like how our district was falling apart,” said Enright, who is now running for the District 3 seat in the city council primary.
“The first thing we need to do is better the neighborhoods,” said Enright, who is father to four boys from ages 5 to 11. He plans to form a District Action Line if elected so his constituents can report nuisance properties or “the neighbor with the loud music.” Enright pledged to respond to those calls within 48 hours. Councilman Mike Craig, the incumbent for District 3, is not as involved with those issues as he should be, Enright said.
Enright said he wants to emulate former Councilman Bob McCloskey’s community involvement. “Even as a kid, I cam remember him coming down to the [football] field,” said Enright, who coaches the Navarre Colts 6th-8th grade team.
To respond to the growing concern of violence in the area, Enright recommended hiring more police. “I wish we had a magic wand to create more police,” he said with a laugh. He added that many of his elderly neighbors are concerned with teens being out late at night, but with officers responding to shootings, enforcing a curfew cannot be a priority. To combat the issue, he said he would apply for grants or use money from the general fund to hire even just two more officers.
Enright is endorsed by several unions including his own, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8. “[The unions] realize the drive I have in me,” he emphasized. One issue Enright watched closely was the selling of the 69-acre Marina District to the Chinese investment firm, Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., because he believes local workers should be hired for local projects. Ultimately, Enright said he was happy with council’s decision to sell the Marina District because, “Rudolph Libbe’s a very reputable company and they gave their word they would hire local people.”
Rather than focus too much on bringing in new businesses, Enright said, “I want to focus on businesses that are here now.” However, Enright said he would like to bring back the River East Revitalization Corporation that fixed up dilapidated buildings and turned them into business or residential spaces, like The Docks in International Park. With his ideas, “I really think I can get on council,” Enright said. “I’m just excited.”
“I’m a libertarian. I make no bones about it,” said Kenneth Sharp, a candidate for the District 1 city council seat in the Sept. 13 primary. Sharp, a prominent officer in the Lucas County Libertarian Party, is a full-time student in the law and social thought track at the University of Toledo.
Sharp said he decided to run for council because, “I don’t find anything exceptional” about the current incumbents and that “they’re the same party as far as libertarians are concerned.”
Sharp graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1985 and attended the University of Cincinnati until both his parents died during his freshman year. He and his two brothers returned to Toledo to help their sister finish high school. Since then, he has performed jobs in several fields including the restaurant and photography industries.
He was heavily involved in starting the Lucas County Libertarian Party, which has about 70 members, he said, adding that his party views heavily influence his platforms.
“Really, it’s the people that inform the government. Locally, that’s what I want to get it back to,” he said. “The truth is in a free society, you have to let people make free choices.”
He listed the recently passed panhandling legislation as an instance of council using too much power and also said council is too quick to spend the money budgeted by its charter. However, Sharp was for the privatization of the refuse program that occurred earlier this year. “If government doesn’t do it better then turn it to the private sector,” he said. “Garbage isn’t a job government should be doing.”
The government places also places too many restrictions on businesses, Sharp said giving that street hot dog vendors aren’t allowed to be open during certain sporting events as an example.
Sharp, who lives near where his aunt and mother attended elementary school, was inspired to run this cycle because of his district’s history and because “my district seemed to be in so much trouble.” If Sharp isn’t elected, he probably will not run during the next cycle, rather “I’ll try to recruit and bring up the next group of libertarians,” he said.
Candidate for the District 1 council primary and Whitmer High School social studies teacher Jason Schreiner said of the seven candidates for the position, “I’m one of the only people who can say they saved people taxes.”
In his position as vice president of negotiations for the Teachers’ Association of Washington Local Schools, Schreiner said, “We approached the superintendent, extending contracts through 2013 [and said] we’ll take zero and freeze on salary. That was to save jobs and show taxpayers we’re serious.”
Schreiner, a Democrat, said his work in the union has prepared him to better serve other union workers and the middle class of Toledo. The father of two boys, 3 and 4 years old, ran for an at-large council seat in 2005. The changes in his life since then have impacted his candidacy this time around. “I’m six years older; I got married, had two kids. The world is totally different now,” he explained.
Reaching out to the State House and to businesses is a large part of council’s job, Schreiner said. Although council voted to hire a lobbyist in the spring, Schreiner said he believes that championing Toledo at the State House and working with representatives should fall more to council. “Toledo’s kind of forgotten compared to Dayton, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati,” he said.
He also said council members should reach out more to businesses to encourage them to come to Toledo. “The city councilman for District 1 has to be a cheerleader for small businesses,” he said, adding, “Give them tax incentives, give them tax breaks.”
Maintaining the balanced budget is also important to Schreiner. “I’m very, very strongly in favor of following the city charter,” he said. He also advocated paying for services that the charter mandates. “If we don’t pay for the things we have to, the city’s going to suffer,” he said.
Communication is another central component of Schreiner’s platform. Schreiner, who received his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Toledo last year, said he would work to keep his constituents informed if elected, promising to return all correspondence within 48 hours. In addition, he would put out a newsletter and meet with constituents once a quarter. He emphasized, “I want to make sure when someone asks ‘Well, who’s your councilman?’ [constituents] can fire it out right away.”
Former city employee and independent Ernie Berry believes that his successful personal life will translate into a successful bid for the District 3 city council seat.
“I’m a firm believer in the belief that for anybody to be successful in any job, they have to be successful in their personal life,” he said.
After working for the City of Toledo for five and a half years, mostly in affirmative action and contract compliance, Berry moved on to other ventures about a month ago. He recently bought a house for “literally nothing,” revamped and sold it, and plans to do so with more houses. Berry, a motivational speaker, also authored an autobiography, “Tried, Tested & Being Approved: The Ernie Berry Story” that details his life with disabilities, winning chess tournaments and working in Washington, D.C.
Berry, a University of Toledo grad, ran for a council at-large seat in 2005 despite some saying he was too inexperienced at the time. “That was a legitimate claim and now I have the experience not only in the public sector, but also in the private sector,” Berry said, adding that he also received a master’s degree in public administration since his first run.
His main platform is encouraging economic development by “putting a stop to the overbearing overregulation in terms of zoning and codes. I’m not talking about repealing the things that make businesses safe but repealing the things that make businesses not competitive,” he said.
Berry does not advocate more police, something many candidates are pushing for, at present because of budget constraints. He also said adding more police won’t cut back on crime. “Police don’t prevent crime, they respond to crime,” he said. Rather, economic growth and putting people back to work will cut down on violence, Berry said. “If people are occupied with working and putting food on the table then that’s definitely going to curb violence,” he said, adding crimes committed by youth will go down if they see their role models and parents working instead of turning to crime.
Ultimately, Berry said, “There’s really not the master formula as far loosen these nuts, tighten these bolts and Toledo’s ready to go.” He also emphasized that his openness and uniqueness set him apart from other candidates. “Everyone wants to say they’re unique and swim against the current but the proof’s in the pudding. Ernie Berry gets things done,” he said. “I’ve got a book for crying out loud.”
Brandon Tucker, candidate for the District 1 city council seat in the primary, is organized—so organized that he said he could use his skill at efficiency to streamline the budget.
“We really have to get down to details,” said Tucker, a Democrat with a master’s degree from Lourdes College in organizational leadership. “Once you start looking at how you operate, you can see how to spend efficiently,” he added. His ideas include using technology to cut back on paper usage and taking a hard look at how the city uses supplies.
Tucker previously served in the Ohio Air Force National Guard from 2004 to 2010. During that time, he supervised logistics and supplies for fighter jets at the Toledo Express Airport. He recently started working as the workforce development program manager at Washtenaw Community College after being the director of workforce development for the Greater Toledo Urban League. He is also the executive pastor at Great New Psalmist Church.
Tucker said he plans to “let people know who I am” if elected to council. One of his main platforms is what he calls “One Call, That’s All” in which he promises to return all constituents’ inquiries within 48 hours. If elected, he also pledged to host quarterly forums in his district. “Right now, there’s a bit of a disconnect between council and its constituents,” he said.
Besides reevaluating supplies and encourajaging green technology, Tucker said he plans to take a look at how city departments overlap and could better use their resources. This could mean creating one department that would be responsible for inspections that new businesses are subjected to. Instead of going through several departments for licenses, business owners should just have to go through one, Tucker said.
Tucker added that he believes he can win District 1’s voters because “people are excited about fresh leadership.” District 1 brings Toledo “diversity in area, diversity in business and diversity in people,” he emphasized.