The Grand Old Man of T-Town politics is hanging it up.
Peter Ujvagi, the ol’ P.U., has announced his current term on Toledo City Council will be his last. He’s not seeking re-election, and will not be on the ballot for District 3 this Fall.
Thus ends the curious saga of P.U.’s most recent foray into the ever murky waters of City Council. A long-time councilman beginning back in the 80s and 90s, P.U. made the shift to higher office in the aughts. He ran for and won election to a seat in the State House in twenty oh two. He held that seat through the remainder of the aughts.
When term limits kept him from continuing at the state level, he had a soft landing, as lifers in elected office often do. He was appointed by the friendly members of the Lucas County Commissioners to be County Administrator, thus cementing a fat public pension.
Then came the fateful year of 2015. District 3 Council Rep Mike Craig was prevented by term limits from seeking another term. The seat, representing P.U.’s beloved East Toledo and parts of the Old South End, would be open.
From what we hear, no one went looking for P.U. to run. Perhaps someone younger, someone fresher could be persuaded to campaign for the seat?
If you believe that was ever likely, you haven’t been paying attention. No one was looking for P.U., perhaps, but he showed up nevertheless. He ran and won, but in the closest of the district council elections that year. As we chronicled in our rundown of district seats up this year, it was far too close for comfort for a known entity like ol’ P.U.
In fact, we predicted an uphill battle for re-election this fall right here in these precious column inches. We noted that he had ticked off some of his formerly staunchest supporters, including those in powerful labor unions. Undaunted, P.U. sought and obtained the endorsement of the LC Dems for the seat.
He looked rarin’ and ready to go. The campaign was off and roaring, until…it wasn’t. And now it’s gone. Petitions must be filed by mid-July to run for the seat, and P.U. swears he’s out of the running.
He claims he’s bowing out to take care of his health problems. Pardon the play on words, but sorry, P.U., this excuse stinks. What health problems do you have that you didn’t have four years ago? Or twenty years ago, for that matter?
Don’t get us wrong. We hear running for office takes a toll on anyone’s health. We would understand anyone declining to put themselves through the thankless wringer of elective politics.
But that excuse simply doesn’t hold water with P.U., who has been involved in City Politics since before most of us were born. He’s put himself through the wringer repeatedly, and has never been a picture of health.
Fear of the ballot box
P.U. also sez he’s not intimidated by his Republican opponent Glen Cook, who almost upset him four years ago, or erstwhile convicted felon Bob McCloskey,who is reportedly eyeing another run at the seat he held until his indictment for bribery. McCloskey shouldn’t be much of an opponent, given the apparent fact that, as a felon convicted of bribery, he’s probably not eligible for the seat.
It’s much more likely that P.U. doesn’t want the battering he’d endure if his former supporters turned nasty. Or the embarrassment at the polls he’s likely to face. And the resultant smearing of his legacy. He’d rather go out on his own terms than be turned out by the voters. A loss is no way to go off into the sunset. Just ask He Who Shall Not Be Named.
Only one thing remains to be seen. Who will emerge from the shadows of the Dems to seek the seat, now that P.U. is out of the way?
Here’s a fearless prediction. Mike Craig jumps back into the mix and wants his old job back.