Monday, May 20, 2024

Hildo April 2024: Being Paula – The Strange Political Saga of PHH

Another day, another loss.

As predicted in this humble column, Paula Hicks Hudson was defeated in her bid to win the Democratic primary election for Lucas County Commissioner. Sitting Commissioner Anita López beat PHH handily and moves on to November’s General Election against something called John Rozic.

This all but assures that A Lo will retain her seat, which  she was appointed to in January, 2024 to replace retiring  Commissioner Tina Wozniak. That appointment was made by the county’s Dem Central Committee. A Lo won the appointment against, that’s right, PHH. Two attempts to become your next county commissioner in three months. Two humiliating defeats for our Paula.

Of course, humiliating defeats are nothing new to Paula. Follow along as we trace her strange political journey.

The long and winding road 

Paula has a long history of public service. She has served as a public interest attorney for the Legal Aid Society, as director and deputy director of the Board of Elections, and she has served as an assistant public defender and an assistant county prosecutor. She also has served as a legislative aid to Toledo City Council.

She was appointed to the Council District Four seat in January twenty eleven, replacing Michael Ashford, who had been elected state rep. Paula won a special election that May, then defended her seat in the General Election that November, winning more than seventy percent of the vote. She was nearly sixty years old when she won her first election to political office.

Paula ran to become President of Council in twenty thirteen when then-President Joe McNamara resigned to run for mayor. In one of the more contentious elections for President of Council in recent memory, it took multiple rounds of voting over multiple days, but PHH finally prevailed. 

PHH was President when then-Mayor D. Michael Collins suddenly died in twenty fifteen. As mandated by the city charter, PHH automatically became mayor, the first African American woman to hold that post. She defended her position in the Mayor’s office in a special election later that year to serve out the remainder of the term.

Then her political career came to a screeching halt. She ran for reelection in twenty seventeen and was soundly defeated by ten percentage points by current Mayor Wade K. Not to be deterred, Paula set her sights on higher office, running for a state rep seat in twenty eighteen. She won the primary easily and was unopposed in the November General Election. She was re-elected easily in twenty twenty, then won a state senate seat in twenty twenty two, beating Tony “Killer” Dia by ten points.

Party crashers

It appeared that she was back on track. After the humiliating defeat in twenty seventeen, PHH had a string of three victories. Now past her seventieth birthday, it seemed she could coast toward retirement on the wings of electoral success.

Nope. First she agreed to become the Lucas County Democratic Party Chair after the resignation of Michael Ashford last year. Always a grinding, thankless job.  Then she decided she was sick of the commute to Columbus and the pesky term limits of state office and launched her ill fated bid for County Commissioner.

Now she faces a challenge for party chair. Schuyler Beckwith, fresh off an electoral loss for Oregon City Council, has thrown her hat into the ring. Beckwith is young and energetic and has a history as an organizer.

Paula has gone oh for two this year. The election for party chair will happen in the next month or so, with the party Central Committee making the choice.

Will the third time be the charm, or the nail in the political coffin?

Recent Articles