Candidates for Toledo District 3 council seat debate issues

Kelly Kaczala

Glen Cook, Robert Worthington, and Theresa Gadus, candidates for Toledo’s 3rd District City Council seat, answered questions on a variety of issues at the East Toledo Family Center’s “Meet the Candidate” forum on Tuesday.
The candidates will be on the Sept. 10 primary ballot. Two of the candidates with the most votes will go on to the Nov. 5th general election.
All are vying for the seat vacated by incumbent 3nd District Councilman Peter Ujvagi, a Democrat who announced weeks ago that he would not seek re-election.
Cook, 76, is endorsed by the Republican Party. He was 350 votes short of beating Ujvagi in 2015. Worthington, 24, is an independent though he is a registered Democrat. Gadus, 39, is endorsed by the Democrat Party.
District 3 encompasses all of East Toledo and the Old South End.

The candidates responded to several prepared questions, as well as written questions submitted by the public.
Worthington, of South Toledo, described himself as an “independent Democrat.”
“I believe in Democrat ideals but I don’t believe in party as doing a good enough job,” he said. “I’m not too impressed with the endorsed people. I’m not a politician should prove my point. I’m not here to please anyone. I’m here to work with you and help our district. I’m not a politician. I’m a public servant. I’m not here to pretend I’m better than you. I’m here to represent you. I think we all need to wake up. The planet is dying, people are dying. People expect to live on $15,000 per year. And our government is being run by delinquents. I want us to care – care about important things. I’m here to learn. We will rise together and fall together. We just need to care more.”
Gadus said “regardless of where I go in the district, we all want the same thing.”
“We want viable neighborhoods, efficient city services, good parks and programs. As your councilwoman, I will work for you and with you to achieve all those things,” she said.
The candidates were asked how they would work with the City of Toledo departments to get things accomplished in the district if they are elected, Cook said he has met with many officials over the years and knows what is expected of a council person.
“I have met with Peter Ujvagi, Carty Finkbeiner, Bob McCloskey and a number of others downtown that have helped me understand what is required of a council person,” he said.
“City council is required to legislate,” he continued. “It is authorized to enact ordinances and resolutions, provide city services, taxes, regulate businesses. Beyond that, each district council person could use their contacts with city officials to make sure the district is getting a fair equitable service.” The city council position, he added, should be used as a “bully pulpit,” to get things done.
“The council person would speak out on many issues and help citizens move through the maze,” he said.
Gadus said she’s already established relationships with city department officials through community involvement and working on various projects.
“As your representative, I will continue to foster those relationships and work together with every department to get things done,” she said.
Worthington said he’s also worked with city department officials.
“We’re all trying to accomplish the same things. I’ll keep communicating, I’ll let them know what I’m trying to do,” said Worthington. He added that he has a list of projects he’d like to do, such as helping people with small home repairs.
“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Biggest issue
The candidates also were asked what they thought was the biggest issue facing East and South Toledo, and how would they address it.
Worthington said the biggest issue was “our reputation.”
“Everyone wants to talk in the negative – crime, everything that happens on the news is negative. What I like to talk about is the positive,” he said. He cited as examples the East Toledo Family Center, the new metropark off Main Street, and Frankie’s, a downtown nightclub, which he said was “the place to go.”
“Neighbors who consistently fill up this room – neighbors who care. That’s what I will talk about. I let people know that East Toledo is not lost. If we don’t fix our reputation, we’re screwed. Homes and buildings will remain unoccupied. Who will want to come here if we can’t even fix our reputation.”
Cook said he had a long list of issues, including opioid overdose deaths and prostitution.
Cook said studies have shown there is a high rate of poverty in the district, and that it’s directly related to a lack of high paying jobs. He said training people in the trades would help address those issues.
He also said men need to get more involved in their communities.
“Men need to step up to the plate. It’s always women who go to block watches and neighborhood meetings,” he said. “People downtown don’t have to pay attention to us. If we had more voters, we’d get more attention.
Gadus said she would work with city officials to ensure the public had “vibrant neighborhoods, good parks, good services, and things to do.”
“I would do this by making sure your concerns are heard,” she said.
On what they think about the Marina District, Cook said “any time we get an upgrade in East Toledo, it’s a good thing.”
Gadus said it provides a “sense of community.”
“It’s an opportunity to define who we are,” she said.
Worthington said “It’s great to see something happening.”
“But it’s a bandaide. It’s not addressing the real issues in East Toledo. There are deeper issues that need to be addressed. The metropark is great. But what about the high crime?”
Jodi Gross, executive director of the East Toledo Family Center, said she was pleased the public had several candidates from which to choose. None had previously held public office.
“The Family Center is a non-political entity. Our job is to bring stakeholders to a platform where you get informed and educated and engaged in change. That is our responsibility,” said Gross.


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