Butt Heads; The Great Lopez v. Gerken Battle

. December 4, 2018.

What is Anita Lopez up to?

Perhaps she is simply a great anti-corruption fighter, a champion of fiscal accountability. Her position as Lucas County Auditor certainly demands it.

So maybe her recent head-butting with Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken over a fat consultant contract with Chris Redfern, former state chair of the Democratic Party, stems from her high principles. Maybe it is an expression of her desire for fair and open public bidding, her aim to root out back room deals.

Nah, that couldn’t be it.

The ol’ stepping stone

Remember, this is A-Lo, who we once nicknamed “Stepping Stone” for her use of one elected office to position herself for another. From Toledo School Board to County Recorder to Auditor, A-Lo went up the political food chain in a matter of a few years.

She landed in a soft spot. The Auditor doesn’t really have to do much. The office employees do the real leg work of assessing and re-assessing property values across the county. The chief of staff runs the office. The Auditor just has to stay the heck out of the way and let the employees do their things.

A-Lo has never been one to do that, of course. Her office operates on constant pins and needles. She runs through chiefs of staff like a newborn goes through diapers. Employees jump ship regularly.

A-Lo has always been popular with county voters, though, often getting the most votes countywide of any candidate. She could comfortably be Auditor for the rest of her natural life, collecting a fat public paycheck and maintaining great benefits. She recently won re-election to another term without opposition.

But this is Stepping Stone Lopez we’re talking about, always on the lookout for the next move. It’s why she ran for Toledo Mayor in twenty thirteen, in a back room deal to try to unseat then-Mayor Mike Bell. Her campaign was a disaster. She famously called a press conference to affirm her independent ability to speak spontaneously without consulting with her campaign team, only to consult with her campaign team when asked the first question.

She didn’t clear the primary in twenty thirteen, going down to ignominious defeat. Yet she was still re-elected easily to her Auditor’s seat the very next year.

You would think she would have learned her lesson. Stay in the Auditor’s seat, A-Lo, where little is expected of you. You have no problem living up to no expectations.

Primary foe

That’s not ol’ Stepping Stone’s style. We’re certain she’s eyeing some other position. As evidence, she could have kept this current spat behind closed doors with fellow Democrat Gerken. Yet here it is, out in the open for everyone to ogle.

She’s angling for something. A judgeship, perhaps? Judges in Ohio are term limited by age, meaning they can’t run for re-election after they turn seventy. This regularly opens up seats for newcomers. Like A-Lo, who is a licensed attorney.

Or maybe she’s coming after Gerken’s commissioner seat? That would be more A-Lo’s style, seeking the spotlight, and the power, that comes with a top administrative position.

Gerken is up for re-election in twenty twenty. Is this squabble the opening round of a primary fight to come?