Perusing the menu in City Politics
Freedom of choice. From our earliest days of civics training, we are told that’s what makes a democracy — the freedom to choose our representatives in self-governance.
Those who yearn to represent us put themselves forward as candidates, and we get the freedom tochoose from among these worthy gentle folk. Freedom predicated upon a splendid menu of possible options.
Take this year’s elections for countywide offices like treasurer and clerk of courts. In the former we have the choice between the incumbent, Wade Kapszukiewicz, and challenger Norm something-or-other. Wade has fattened county coffers by aggressively pursuing delinquent accounts, giving needed infusions of cash to institutions like the schools and libraries. He followed that up by establishing a novel county land bank system to strategically stabilize problem properties in blighted neighborhoods.
Come this November we will have the freedom to choose either Wade or Norm whatever-his-name-is, who we hear was once a councilman in the quaint town of Waterville. He is a plumbing expert at some big box construction supply joint, although he is certainly not as well known as a certain plumber running against Marcy Kaptur. Our boy Norm ran for auditor in 2010 but withdrew
so Gina Kaczala could get trounced by Anita Lopez. This time he stands firmly in line to get sacrificed to a powerhouse Dem incumbent.
Talk about choice! A successful, smart go-getter or some second-rate plumbing guy! This plethora of options continues in the race for clerk of courts. Here we have incumbent Bernie Quilter, who has worked to convert court records into electronic format, and has used collaboration and grant dollars to get ‘er done, challenged by Hans … whoops, nope, he withdrew to take a cushy Board of Elections job. We already wrote a column about that. So we have Bernie, or a slot left blank by a perennial loser who took a patronage job rather than get his booty handed to him.Choice.
Viva la difference
Let’s take a deeper look at the race that pundits figure will be the tightest, a heavyweight duel between two veterans of elected office, that for county recorder. This clash pits fellow city councilmen Phil Copeland and George Sarantou.
Copeland vs. Sarantou. Here’s the tale of the tape. Both are current, incumbent, at-large representatives to Toledo City Council. Both are serving their last term because of term limits, and would be thrown to the vagaries of the private sector with a loss. Both shudder at such a possibility, and vow to keep their teeth firmly clenched on the public teat.
Hmm, seems there’s a lot in common here. Back in 2006, both were fresh off being elected at-large councilmen, and both eyed the county commissioner prize, an office without those pesky municipal term limits. Yep, and the oh six elections gave ‘em one more thing in common. Both lost to eventual winner Ben Konop, Copeland in the primary and Sarantou in the general election. That had to leave a mark, especially after Konop’s crash and burn mayoral race in oh nine that saw him refuse to seek re-election and leave town on a midnight train.
Both Copeland and Sarantou have a financial background, Phil as treasurer and later business manager of his union local Laborers’ Local 500, and George as a financial analyst and adviser. They are both experts at their craft. Local 500 had a financial scandal that saw the resignation of former business manager Steve Thomas while Copeland was treasurer. Phil signed the suspicious checks, but swears he saw nothing amiss. Sarantou was chair of City Council’s finance committee while the economy tanked and the city budget
bled deep shades of crimson. Sarantou swears he saw nothing amiss, for who could predict the economic swoon? Perhaps a financial analyst, George, who indeed?
Wow, there’s not much difference here. Except George tried again for commish in oh ten and lost on provisional ballots and a recount to Carol Contrada. So he’s lost more recently than Copeland.
It’s hard to get over the public fact that they both lost to Konop in the same election cycle, though.
Kinda makes it hard to take either one seriously.
Freedom of choice. With a menu like this, we’d rather have a good stiff drink.