Handicapping the race for Toledo City Council

. March 21, 2017.

It’s that time of year. March Madness is upon us.

We’re not talking about the traditional use of that term. Sure, the NCAA basketball tourney is in full gear, known for its frenetic pace, frenzied fan bases, and quick resolution. The madness in City Politics is less a sprint to the finish and more a slow, plodding grind to anticlimax in the September primary and November general election.

The basketball madness has some lessons for the lunacy of those seeking seats on Toledo City Council, though. Each year there are specific seedings and bracket pairings to watch for in the NCAA tourney. Will they portend things to come in the race for City Council?

The 16-1 upset. This is an NCAA oxymoron. Because it has never happened. The sixteen seeds, the lowest seeded teams in the entire field, have never beaten a top-seeded team. That’s oh-and-forever, since the tournament expanded to sixty-four teams in 1985.
Will it happen in the City Council madness?

The first question is, who will the sixteen seeds be? Each year there is a group of upstarts and whackadoos with no business getting involved in public life. We mean real ear-wax candle makers, often with unpronouceable names who no one has ever heard of. Like that one kid from North Toledo, oh, sorry, we forget who he was.

Many of these yahoos haven’t announced their candidacies yet. Most of them never really will, because they don’t know it’s a good idea. Heck, one year there was some wingnut who didn’t even know there was a primary. Jason something or other.
Fuggeddaboutit. Much like the NCAA, no sixteen is beating a one seed. Ever. Which brings us to:

The One Seeds.

Who are this year’s favorites? Frankly, this one is pretty easy. In the South Region, Rob Ludeman has been on Council for twenty-two of the past twenty-four years. Never mind term limits should make that highly unlikely. Or that he hasn’t really accomplished any darned thing in all that time. Or that he might be the most nondescript, bland-as-lard-and-just-as-good-for-you elected in town. He’s got the coveted name recognition to ensure he’s re-elected for another uneventful, milquetoast term.

Then there’s Sandy Spang, also from the South Region, oddly enough. No, it’s not that odd. Heck, the entire Toledo School Board hails from South Toledo, so it should be no surprise that reigning champions on Council also come from the region with the highest voting population.

Spang is a better talker than Ludeman, meaning she keeps talking about the initiatives she wants to start. Someday soon. Probably. She’d prefer to be mayor, but can’t seem to get that off the ground, either.

Still, she’ll be one of the few women in the field, and she’s got good name recognition. She’s a one seed. Which says something about this cast of shiftless characters.

The 15-2 upsets.

These long shots occasionally occur in the NCAA, but not often. Like eight times ever. In City Politics, we guess the two seeds are the remaining incumbents. With incumbent Steven Steel term limited from seeking another term, that leaves Theresa Gabriel, Larry Sykes, and Cecilia Adams.

The former pair barely snuck into office four years ago, Gabriel by a bit shy of one hundred votes, Sykes by a mere six. Adams was appointed to her seat, then ran unopposed. She also ran unopposed for her former seat on the School Board. So she has never legitimately won a race. Seems like none of these folks are deserving of the two seed, and all three are vulnerable for a loss Let’s change it to

The 12-5 upsets.

These bracket busters are much more common. In fact, picking them makes or breaks most NCAA pools. So who are the twelve seeds, poised for an upset of an incumbent or two?
Of the declared candidates, we’d bet on two, Sam Melden and Nick Komives. Both are endorsed by the Dems, both are young activists with identifiable bases of support. They are mature and experienced for their age, and both are ready for a good ground game. One will likely slip into the spot vacated by Steel’s term limit, the other should make it quite a race for the incumbents If we were Gabriel, Sykes, or Adams, we’d be looking over our shoulders at these two.

The long shots.

The other two endorsed Dems, Gary Johnson and Kurt Young, are much longer shots. Both are veteran work horses for their party. Like work horses, they are loyal and hard working, but perhaps a bit slow and worn out. Sorta like the horse Boxer in Animal Farm. Who ends up getting sold to the glue factory. You get the point.

The dark horses.

Are there any Cinderellas in the offing? An unheralded and unknown seed who might pull off an upset and sneak into the Top Six?

There are whispers of candidates in the shadows, but they haven’t declared yet. With the Dems finally fielding a complete slate, and the Rs diddling their digits with nonentity candidates, we think it unlikely.

Except for one possibility. He hasn’t declared officially, but we hear he’s seriously considering it. Be afraid, folks, be very afraid.

Next column.

The coming candidacy of He Who Shall Not Be Named. Stay tuned.