No Contest: For better and worse in City Politics

. February 26, 2019.

And then there were three.

We’ve handicapped three of the six races for Toledo City Council district representatives. The remaining three districts are some of the most intriguing. This edition, we break down Districts Four and Five.

District 4.

Current Incumbent Yvonne Harper. Harper is a fascinating character in City Politics. She has been a good and loyal soldier for the Lucas County Democratic Party, having served as its Executive Director for years. She is also a vocal advocate for the citizens’ right and responsibility to vote, and leads a powerful club of Democratic African American women.

She rose to elected office the old fashioned way. She worked her tail off. The District Four seat was vacated when Mayor Collins passed away in twenty fifteen and PHH, then the D4 rep and City Council President, took his place per the Toledo Charter. Harper originally intended to seek Council’s appointment to fill the vacancy, but withdrew her name from contention, stating she would rather win the seat at the May special election.

Scott Ramsey was appointed instead. After an undistinguished few months on Council, Ramsey finished a distant third in the special election, behind Harper and second-place finisher Ruth Ashford.

Harper immediately showed she took the job of district rep seriously. She has become notorious as the hardest working member of council, spending hours every day at One Guv and posting a continuous stream of information to social media. She got a whopping sixty-nine and one-half percent of the vote in the primary election later that year, and won election in the general with over seventy-three and one-half percent.

It’s now four years later. Harper has continued to be the hardest working Council rep, tirelessly advocating for her district. You heard it here first. She is unbeatable.

That won’t stop ambitious folks from trying, though. We predict at least three or more challengers will waste their time and money trying to unseat Harper. Some, like June Boyd, are better known. Others, like Alfonso Narvaez, like to see their name in lights, even as they have lost multiple times. Still others are likely so far under the radar right now they might forget to vote for themselves.

No matter. Harper is beloved in her district, and will win going away.

District 5.

Current incumbent: Tom Waniewski. Unlike District Four, which is already sewn up, District Five is wide open. That’s because Waniewski is term limited, having been elected four years ago without opposition.

Therein lies the rub. Waniewski was likely unbeatable in twenty fifteen. He works hard for his district and is quite popular, even as a Republican in a district that leans D and was formerly represented by Tina Wozniak.

Still, he was running for his final term. back in twenty fifteen. Anyone who wanted to run this year should have thrown their hat in the ring four years ago to gain experience and valuable name recognition.

No one did, and Waniewski hasn’t groomed anyone, meaning there is no obvious successor.
Enter Sam Melden into the breach. Melden has had his eyes set on public office for years. He didn’t reside in D5 four years ago, but does now. He has been acting like he assumes he’ll be the next D5 rep recently, with a swagger and confidence.

Confidence is important. But elections are won by campaign cash and name recognition. Does Melden have it in D5? Who will challenge Melden to succeed Waniewski? The Rs will certainly field a candidate. Will it be someone with the gravitas and momentum to knock off Melden?

In this race for an open seat, it’s anyone’s guess. Ours? We’ll bet on Melden for now.