Thursday, February 22, 2024

Putting Toledo on the map

Ambition and stalemates in City Politics

You may not have noticed it, but the local pol musical chairs game is in full swing.

One of the main players is State Rep Lisa Sobecki. She has successfully made the jump from long time Toledo school board member to elected member of Toledo’s statehouse delegation. She’s a tireless campaigner, with a compelling life story and a great motto.

Military veteran.  Mother with a strong working family.  Public servant. “Mom on a mission.”

A shoo in for re-election fo sho.

Except she has decided not to run for re-election to her statehouse seat. Instead she is running against incumbent LC Commish Gary Byers. In an increasingly nasty and acrimonious race. Leaving her state rep seat open and ripe for the picking. Musical chair número uno.

The primary race for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor opened up the next musical chair. Strike that, the domino effect opened up two, but one has already been claimed.

The race for the nomination was originally between former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Cincy Mayor John Cranley. Then the latter picked Toledo State Senator Teresa Fedor as his running mate. Which opened up Fedor’s senate seat.

Current statehouse rep, former Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks Hudson, has declared her candidacy for the Ohio senate seat. Meaning PHH is not running for re-election to her current Ohio statehouse rep seat. Musical chair number two.

Get in the game
The ambitious have come out of the woodwork for the opportunity to get into this musical chair carousel by running for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. As already discussed in this column, that includes current Toledo council member Dr. Michele Grim, only a few months into her first term. And Nick Komives, who, at least, has served a full term.

It also includes Daniel Ortiz, freshly off last year’s failed Toledo council bid. And Colin Flanagan, who has never run for anything and is a self described student at UT. How he could represent a district in Columbus while pursuing a dual degree at UT is anybody’s guess.

Well-respected labor and community leader Erika White has also declared her candidacy. All appear to be gathering volunteers and funds for the campaign ahead.

Party lines
There’s only one problem. No one knows who is running in which district.

That’s because no district lines have been drawn and no district boundaries created. That’s not completely true. The commission charged with drawing the lines based on the twenty twenty census has proposed four separate maps, approved along completely partisan GOP lines.  All four have been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court as, surprise! Overtly partisan.

The map circus would be laughable if not for the threat it poses to the upcoming elections. In between maps three and four the commission chose bipartisan map experts to draw lines. At the eleventh hour the GOP members rejected those efforts and pushed through their own map, which was again duly struck down as too partisan.

The Supreme Court members who have rejected the maps include a bipartisan majority. There were rumblings in GOP circles that the GOP member of that majority should be impeached. Apparently for not being partisan enough and instead upholding her sworn oath to render impartial justice.

Meanwhile the ambitious can only stand by and wait, with the musical chairs game at a standstill. The GOP-dominated commission is at a stalemate with the Ohio Supreme Court.  Without district lines, no one can tell who lives in which district.  And elections are therefore on hold.

The crisis of democracy continues.

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