Her personal financial history shows debt totaling $261,432, which she attributed mainly to her mortgage, outstanding student loans (for undergraduate and law schools), and a line of credit to renovate her home. The rest of her personal debt comes from credit card accounts and a vehicle loan.
While she admitted her overall credit score of 621 is less than those of her major opponents for Toledo mayor, Ms. López, presently the Lucas County auditor, explained that there are extenuating personal circumstances, including being the divorced, single mother of two young boys and a recent decision to modify her home so her aging parents could live with her.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’m working and have a home,” she said. “I’m proud of the fact that I’m blessed to be able to complete my dream of becoming a lawyer and I paid for my own tuition with student loans. I think it’s been even more important for me to take care of my parents.”
Ms. López, the youngest of seven children, explained that her mother Minerva was deeply scared one morning to wake up and find Toledo police officers in her home as a result of a break-in attempt. That prompted a discussion between Ms. López and her parents, now approaching their mid-70s, to live with her. She called that decision a combination of rising crime in her old neighborhood and her refusal to put her parents in a nursing home.
“My parents, who were migrant workers, instilled in me a work ethic,” she said. “So I have been honored that as the Old South End has been deteriorating, and unfortunately, my father’s health has been deteriorating, that I made the decision to move them in and re-construct my home so it was handicap-accessible for my father.”
Ms. López estimated the loan she took out to renovate her home at $23,000, not including other adaptive equipment that was needed, such as a lift bed for her father who has suffered a series of strokes. Her mother also suffers from diabetes.
“I love this community like I love my family. I look forward to lifting it up like I have tried to lift up my loved ones and lift up the county as auditor,” she said. “While late payments are not what we want to be talking about, transparency shows who you are.”
Ms. López stated she has a track record as county auditor of “being compassionate with citizens and businesses as they’re struggling.” She admitted she made some public entities upset with her, by openly encouraging property owners to challenge their home values. “When the economy was struggling and citizens were struggling, as auditor, I made sure we were not overtaxing citizens,” she explained. “That ruffled a lot of feathers. But I knew what they were going through.”
Ms. López described herself as a self-made individual—the first in her family to earn a college degree, the first lawyer, and the one with the financial ability to help her parents. She stated she has always been able “to make ends meet” and pay her own way.
“Toledo’s path has been challenging and I think I’m a reflection that if we pull together as a family, we can get over these tough times,” she said. “Never give up the dream of being able to want more and do more with less. I think I’ve proven that.”
Ms. López even went so far as to say her own personal financial struggles may make her more relatable to Toledo’s voters, many of whom are struggling themselves.
“I think I relate well to individuals who want more for their families,” she said. “Due to the recession, they’ve had to make decisions—care for loved ones, college graduates not being able to find jobs in this community. Individuals have had their adult children living with them right now—and they’re trying to help them get through this. I hope I send the message that we can do it, we can overcome any obstacle.”
But Ms. López also pointed out that she doesn’t believe her personal finances have anything to do with her ability to run the city if elected as Toledo’s next mayor.
“My FICA score does not have anything to do with how I have personally run the auditor’s office or run the mayor’s office,” she said. “Most importantly, if it does matter, then why is the city of Toledo in the state that it is?”
Retired Toledo police officer Lou Vásquez introduced Ms. López at the press conference. He pointed out at least two other mayoral candidates have retired as public employees and are “now making a second go of it at the public trough,” i.e., double-dipping by Mayor Bell (former TFD) and Councilman Collins (former TPD).