Lopez gets applause from supporters, spars with voters at OTWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Aug. 27 penultimate installment of the Ottawa Tavern’s Political Parties series, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez filled the bar with her supporters, but didn’t hesitate to call out those in the room who may not have been her biggest fans.
During the course of the evening, Lopez called out a Joe McNamara staffer who was present, Mayor Mike Bell administrators who sat close to the stage, and hassled two Blade reporters who tried to ask questions, telling them that they weren’t welcome to ask questions during her time with citizens.
And while Lopez may not be popular with those bar-goers after Tuesday night, unpopularity is a something Lopez said she will be feeling a lot of if she is elected mayor.
“You have to be able to upset a lot of people, and you’re not going to be popular your first year,” Lopez said. “But you know who is going to respect you? The workforce who has been witnessing it.”
Lopez said she hopes to revamp the city’s workforce during her time as mayor, and stressed the need for hard-working employees.
“The buck stops with me. If I find out that we have a consistent problem with employees or directors, you know how we’re going to solve money, right?” Lopez said, noting she isn’t afraid to fire ineffective workers.
Lopez also touted her plan for safer neighborhoods, which includes what she calls “Toledo Neighborhood Teams,” and told voters about the need to make the city more business-friendly.
Lopez said Bell isn’t as in-touch with the city as she is.
“I am worried that the mayor and the current leadership are out of touch with what’s happening with Toledoans,” Lopez said to a round of applause as Bell admins stood feet away from her.
Lopez also took a number of tough questions from voters, including some that were a departure from the questions that have been asked every week.
To one voter who asked if she considered herself a feminist, Lopez said, “You’d have to be a feminist to run against all of these men.”
“You have to be a strong feminist. If you’ve been paying attention, the only person being attacked in this campaign is a strong woman.”
Lopez also voiced her support of pro-choice legislation, but also said improved sex education would make the world “a much better place.”
Bar-goers also asked Lopez about the possibility of a Downtown entertainment district. She said she “liked the concept,” but there were concerns she had about the proposal, including underage drinking and the opinions of existing Downtown business owners.
As for the weekly question on making Toledo more bike-friendly, Lopez said she would like to see more recreational biking at area Metroparks, but would have to “look into” commuter biking ideas. She said she would not have the funds to implement any drastic changes like bike lanes during her first two years in office.
Lopez also had some colorful answers to other questions from attendees.
In response to a Twitter question that asked Lopez to share an “out-of-the-box” idea for the city, Lopez prefaced her statement by saying, “It’s not out-of-the-box.” She went on to talk about her plans for Portside and the Marina District, and said “I don’t know if you have to think outside the box,” and called that kind of thinking “one of the biggest problems for elected officials.”
Lopez was also asked what she would do to prevent “brain-drain,” or the migration of educated young people out of the city.
Lopez said, “First of all, we need to get campaigns to stop attacking new faces in One Government Center,” referencing her own campaign.
“The new people in my office are being attacked. What message are we sending to the next generation who wants to come to Toledo and get involved in public service?” she said.
Wrapping up the Ottawa Tavern’s Political Parties series next week is Opal Covey, whose event was rescheduled for Sept. 3.
Toledo Free Press and 1370 WSPD are media sponsors for the event.
For more information, visit www.otavern.com.