Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Deep Six: Anybody’s Ball Game in Toledo District Six

And then there’s the real wild card in City Politics.

To recap, we have handicapped the races for Toledo’s District Council races over the past several columns. We have covered Districts One through Five, with our usual fearless and well-reasoned prognostications.

That leaves District Six. A head scratcher if ever there was one.

District Council Six.

Current Incumbent, Councilman Chris Delaney. District Six is a hard read. It stretches from Point Place down the Alexis Road corridor, with parts of the Old North End and Library Village thrown in. The District leans Democrat, but mostly because it is home to a heavy unionized worker presence. It includes the GM Powertrain plant, as well as a large population of union trades workers.

The District is socially conservative and pro-union. It has been represented by the staunch Republican Joe Birmingham, until he was ousted by finishing out of the running in the two thousand seven primary election. Birmingham finished third behind Green Party Candidate David Ball and eventual winner in the General Election, Democrat Lindsay Webb.

Webb is the wife of a union tradesman and longtime resident of the Point, both pluses in the District. She was re-elected easily in twenty eleven and twenty fifteen. Then came her on again, off again, on at last appointment to replace Wade K as Lucas County Treasurer early last year, leaving the District Six seat open.

Enter Democrat Chris Delaney, retired TPD police officer and Webb’s choice to replace her. The heavily Democratic Council appointed Delaney to the seat, which he won in a special election in May twenty eighteen with a bit over forty percent of the vote.

Plurality, but majority?

Delaney won with a plurality because there was no primary to winnow the field of four candidates. Those candidates included the ubiquitous David Ball, this time running as an Independent; perennial candidate Jim Nowak; and someone called Alex Rivera.

We wonder how many voters that voted for Chris Delaney thought they were voting for libertarian loudmouth Bill Delaney, he of the eponymous bar who refused to enforce the state smoking ban. That Delaney has been on the ballot before, and is certainly well-known in the District. And, we expect, better known than this Delaney, who most had never heard of before his appointment.

Chris Delaney is sort of the anti-Lindsay Webb. While Webb was known for her shoot from the lip, speak-first-and-gather-facts-later approach to issues, Delaney rarely speaks publicly at all. Webb once made a loud public stance on behalf of former Washington Local superintendent Patrick Hickey, before his legal and moral jeopardy came to light. Whoopsie! Delaney, to the contrary, has taken no public stances of note, loud or otherwise.

We hear Delaney is a thoughtful, hard-working councilman behind the scenes. Will that translate into support in a district that is accustomed to Webb’s brash, boastful, media-savvy style?

Delaney is certainly vulnerable. He has never won a majority of votes in District Six. Winning a special election, with low voter turnout and a crowded field, is one thing. Winning head-to-head is another. Just ask PHH. The right candidate, with union cred like Delaney, but a larger personality, could knock him off.

Delaney has six months before the Primary Election to impress the voters. During that time he’s got a tall mountain to climb, and there will be others chasing him. We expect Ball will be back, along with a formidable challenge from a R-Party Chair Mark Wagoner-backed Republican.

It’s go time!

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