Election 2012: Two Toledo city councilmen run for recorder seatWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Two at-large councilmen, George Sarantou and Phil Copeland, are running for Lucas County Recorder in one of the more dramatic races on the ballot. Both are near the end of their term limits on Council.
Sarantou has been a financial adviser for New England Financial for 30 years while Copeland has held an office with Laborers Local 500 for about 30 years. Both say their professional experience qualifies them for the position.
The recorder’s office is responsible for indexing and maintaining land records like deeds, liens and mortgages in addition to military records.
“I deal with forms every day and the forms, applications, have to be filled out precisely. You can’t make a mistake,” said Sarantou, who was first elected to Council in 2001.
Copeland, who has been on Council since 2005, said, “I’ve been taking care of office business and paying bills for almost 30 years and keeping records. I have to make sure that those bills are on time; I have to make sure we’ve got the money to pay for these bills. … We’ve never been late.”
Both men praised Recorder Jeanine Perry, who is retiring, and her staff for running an “excellent” office.
Despite these similarities, the two men have different plans if elected.
Sarantou said he would consult other counties who had instituted electronic recording with an emphasis on security. He would also continue the move toward scanning documents to save on storage.
In addition to working with other offices like the auditor’s and clerk of courts’, Sarantou said he would start a business advisory council.
“Being on Council the last 11 years, I’ve seen the value of citizens’ committees that help give new ideas to government and also come up with cost savings,” he said.
His 10 years of experience as chairman of the finance committee will also help him if elected as recorder, Sarantou said.
“Each of those 10 years, I’ve been selected as chairman of the finance committee by the majority Democratic members of City Council and I think that says a lot,” he said.
The Republican councilman also said he is not afraid to be a leader.
“There’s not a neighborhood in the City of Toledo that I haven’t personally been involved in,” he said.
Democrat Copeland said of his own record, “I’m not the one that’s going to be jumping up and down and raising all that hell, but if you check my voting record, I’ve voted with the people.”
Copeland decided to run after being encouraged to do so by community members. The business manager and secretary/treasurer for his union, Copeland said he plans to retire if elected. Sarantou said if he is elected, he would be at the recorder’s office daily but keep a practice.
Copeland said he wants to learn more about the office before making plans.
“The people down there can teach me more about that office than I can teach them about that office,” he said.
“I can work with anybody,” Copeland added. “If I was lucky enough to win and go into office, I can work with the staff that’s there. I can become a part of the group that’s there. I’m not going down there to tear it apart. I haven’t heard one bad thing about that office.”
Sarantou criticized Copeland for missing about 20 committee meetings this year. Copeland is out of town for work on the third Thursday of every month.
Copeland said that as chairman of the finance committee, “[Sarantou] could have set the dates where I wouldn’t be missing the meetings … he knows good and well I’m not going to be able to make it.”
Sarantou said he scheduled three meetings this year on a third Thursday to accommodate other people who needed to be there.
“On the fourth and fifth Thursdays of the month, [Copeland] still missed meetings,” he added.
Copeland said Sarantou has also called him out for not attending campaign and community events.
“Campaigning has never been something that’s hard for me. I know my opponent said that he doesn’t see me out there campaigning. Well, what is he doing? If he doesn’t see me out there, where are you at?” Copeland said.
The recorder race saw further conflict when an anonymous postcard, claiming that Copeland lied about receiving his GED, came out earlier this October.
“He doesn’t even have a GED. He hasn’t even graduated from high school but he still wants to be the Lucas County Recorder. Is he even qualified?” the card reads.
Copeland said he attended Scott High School in the early ’60s and received his GED certificate in 1976. Sarantou graduated from Ohio State University in 1974. Sarantou organized a news conference Oct. 24 to separate himself from the postcard.
“I am appalled at what I believe to be an unfounded accusation against Phillip Copeland. This is obviously somebody’s idea of dirty politics,” Sarantou said.
Copeland said he disagreed with Sarantou having a news conference.
“That’s pretty low. If he didn’t do it, I can’t swear that he did it … but to even repeat it, if you didn’t have anything to do with it, then why did you repeat it?” Copeland said.