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La Liga de Las Americas

Lourdes Santiago offers skill, experience as she accepts new challenges

By Fletcher Word
La Prensa Staff Writer

One word kept popping up during a recent conversation with Toledo City Councilwoman Lourdes Santiago when we asked her to describe how she felt about the sudden turn her professional life has taken in just a few short weeks—“delighted.”

“I’m more delighted than anything else,” she said. “I can continue to serve as a public official and I’m delighted with the fact of being in private practice and can provide a whole range of different services. There is no other description than delight.”

Santiago, who has been a lawyer for almost 27 years and has worked for the City of Toledo since 1983, was just recently appointed to serve on Toledo City Council. As we noted several weeks ago, her appointment came about after she received a last minute, split endorsement from the Hispanic Democratic Caucus. Robert Vásquez was also endorsed by that group.

But Vasquez’s name was not well received by either the Lucas County Democratic Party (due to his close affiliation with former Mayor Jack Ford and the Party’s “A” team) or by Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. Santiago garnered their support and she received the nod from the members of City Council.

Because of her appointment, she was then obligated to terminate her full-time position with the City where she had been, for the past several years, working as a prosecutor in the Law Department.

She found a position with Gallon, Takacs, Boissoinelle & Schaffer (Gallon & Takacs). She will be working as an associate in general practice, with a specialty in immigration law.

Gallon & Takacs has had a long history of representing labor unions and, in particular, has a longstanding relationship with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and Founder/President Baldemar Velásquez.

Three years ago, the law firm established an office at FLOC headquarters so that FLOC members could have easier access to legal advice. Santiago will chair that office on a part-time basis as part of her new duties.

And when she speaks of how delighted she is about her new professional life, her future activities within the Latino community are a huge reason for that feeling.

“For years, the community has wanted Arturo Quintero [a local attorney who has worked for the City of Toledo for many years] and me to be available. I would get calls and have to refer them to other attorneys,” she said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Hispanic community to have access to me and they appear to be very elated about that.”

But private practice is only part of the picture for this public servant. Serving in the part-time position of City Council member is, as every other City Council member knows, really a second full-time job.

Santiago’s Council agenda, she said, includes “enhancing neighborhoods, focusing on safety, and retention and creation of jobs.” She has had, during the course of her service with the City, several administrative positions such as acting director of the Department of Development and of the Department of Neighborhoods.

That experience will serve her well, she said, because she has established relationships with neighborhood agencies. “I am a voice for the citizens of Toledo. I’m a good listener who will also take action.

And as if two full-time jobs were not enough, Santiago will have an additional undertaking as she tries to hold on to her Council seat this November in her second city-wide election. She narrowly lost her bid last November to win a seat on the bench of the Toledo Municipal Court.

Will you win this time, we asked her?

“I’m looking forward to doing the best job for the City of Toledo,” she replied. “As the endorsed candidate, I will run a diligent campaign and hope to prevail.”

But the competition will be fierce, we remind the councilwoman. In addition to the aforementioned Vásquez, attorney Joseph McNamara—who will be closely associated, it appears, with Lucas County Commissioner candidate Ben Konop—has tossed his hat into the ring. Many others are sure to come.

“When the voters see my skills and experience—I have a track record that I bring to Council having worked in municipal government for over 23 years—the other folks who are running cannot say the same. They don’t have the experience or track record. I welcome the race.”





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