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District 3 Toledo City Council race heats up

By La Prensa Staff

While Labor Day weekend is traditionally the unofficial start of the political campaign season, three candidates for the Toledo City Council District Three seat have been hot on the trail all summer, because only two will survive the city’s September primary to continue a run in the November general election.

Even though the city primary on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 is considered a nonpartisan election, each has declared party allegiance, except Robert James Worthington, 24, who labels himself an “independent Democrat.” Theresa Gadus, 39, is the endorsed Democrat in the race.

A big part of the reason for the summertime sizzle in the campaign involves the opening of the Early Vote Center, 1301 Monroe St., on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Early, in-person voting could make or break the campaign for each candidate, so each must make their case early and often to voters.

Glen Cook, 76, is a recent graduate of this year’s Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce Advocacy and Leadership course. He lost to veteran Democratic office holder Peter Ujvagi for the same seat by just 350 votes in the 2015 election. He has enlisted the help of the Lucas County Republican party this time. Worthington also ran unsuccessfully in that race. Both men have since completed the Toledo Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.

There was talk right after Ujvagi chose not to run that former Toledo City Council member Bob “Bulldog” McCloskey would try to win his old seat back. While he pulled petitions for a possible run, he never turned in any signatures before the July deadline. McCloskey served 20 months in prison after a conviction for accepting bribes while in office as a city council member.


Glen Cook

Theresa Gadus

Robert James Worthington

District Three is perhaps the most unique of the six city council districts, because it includes all of East Toledo and the Old South End, areas on both sides of the Maumee River. But both areas have significant Latino populations, so it also may be the most important council district to the Latino community overall.

However, no Latinos filed to run for any district seats. At-large council member Gary Johnson is the lone Latino among the elected body. The number of people who vote on each side of the river is about the same, according to Ujvagi, with a slight edge going to the Eastside.

All three candidates are seeking to succeed Ujvagi, an outgoing council member who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election so that he could focus on his health. Ujvagi is a former Toledo City Council president, state representative, and once served as Lucas County administrator.

Cook stated he decided to run again this year after the “tragic shooting” of 16-year old Alexia Carey occurred right in front of his home and his 10-year old granddaughter. According to Cook, “no neighbor should have to witness this” and “no family should have to endure this.” But he contends events like that shooting play out in other city neighborhoods and council districts.

“My wife, Irma, and I have been married 48 years. It’s where we raised our family. But I have witnessed over the years how we steadily lost control of our neighborhoods to crime and blight,” Cook wrote in a recent op-ed piece. “We failed to adequately address infrastructure concerns in our neighborhoods, like our streets and sidewalks. Some homes in our older neighborhoods endanger families and the children because of lead-based paint.”

Cook, who has lived his entire life in District 3, also wants to improve Toledo’s neighborhood groups “to make use of the latest technology” so social media won’t cause situations on social media he claims led to the death of Ms. Carey.

In addition to addressing blight, Cook wants to “redevelop and rebuild” neighborhoods for “the next generation,” part of his personal commitment to leave things better than when he found them, a lesson learned from his father.

Ms. Gadus bills herself as an “experienced community leader” and “community organizer.” She is a fourth-generation Toledoan who has spent the past decade working at Waite High School as an educational interpreter. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo.

I know first-hand the frustrations faced by the residents of District 3 and believe I have the leadership skills and determination to meet those challenges head on,” she wrote in a recent op-ed piece. “Vibrant, clean, safe neighborhoods are vital, and I promise to work hard with all law enforcement agencies to provide better solutions for the citywide addiction crisis, to support hiring more police officers, to properly staff fire departments, and to improve city services.”

Ms. Gadus also touted her community involvement as chairman of One Voice for East Toledo and as a team leader for Operation Safe Growth, as well as a facilitator for the East Toledo Main Street Initiative, which sought to bring businesses and community services to the Main Street corridor of East Toledo. Another focus will be on at-risk youth, as she is proposing to create a “public-private endowment” for improvements and programs at city parks and a partnership with juvenile court to “provide programming, education and expanded recreation programs.”

Worthington defends his political independence and youth as assets that would benefit Toledo City Council. He will graduate this December with a master’s degree in law. He is trying to set himself apart from his older opponents by stating he has published his “real plans to solve real problems, not generic talking points.” He intends to focus on crime prevention, “rotting neighborhoods,” “the neglect of our youth,” “the decay of Lake Erie and this planet,” and the “disastrous way this district operates divided.”

“I’m the only candidate who will put in the manual labor, legislative focus, and managerial leadership needed to simultaneously solve multitudes of our issues,” Worthington wrote in a recent op-ed piece. “My education, experience, relatability, and demeanor put me well beyond my years. Complementarily, my youth grants me the speed, technological skills, stamina, and physicality to do so much more for our district.”

Worthington labels himself “a true public servant” who notes he will turn 25 before the general election and points out Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz began serving on city council at age 26.

Editor’s Note: The primary election in Toledo is September 10, 2019.

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Revised: 08/27/19 14:23:45 -0700.




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