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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
August 12, 2005

A second gay man seeks a Toledo council seat

Council president Louis Escobar is leaving office

Toledo--A second gay man is seeking a city council seat in the Glass City, just as the city�s openly gay council president says he will not seek re-election.

Republican Dave Schulz, 36, is running on a platform to reform city government by eliminating his own job. He announced his candidacy August 1, making Toledo the only city in Ohio with two gay council candidates. Democrat Thomas Meinecke announced in May.

The two join four more gay and lesbian council candidates elsewhere in the state this year. But Ohio�s most powerful gay elected official, Toledo council president Louis Escobar, has decided to leave office at the end of his term.

Schulz and Meinecke enter a field of 16 candidates who will square off in the September 13 primary election. The top 12 in that race will then vie for six at-large council seats on November 8. The races are non-partisan.

Schulz founded the Log Cabin Republicans of Northwest Ohio and was elected to the Lucas County Republican Central Committee. His platform includes sweeping changes to Toledo�s charter which he says will bring about better government while eliminating at-large council seats.

He organized Citizens Organized to Bring Reform and Accountability two years ago to try to make those changes.

�I�m running for a job I want to eliminate,� said Schulz. But in the mean time, his campaign focuses on jobs and economic development.

Schulz�s political career also includes working on local Republican candidates� races. He was also involved in the organization of the new statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization Equality Ohio, and the former Ohioans for Growth and Equality. He is also part of Toledo�s venerable GLBT rights group, Gays and Lesbians United.

Schulz said he was first attracted to politics by Ronald Reagan and followed his family into activism in the Republican Party.

Schulz has the party�s endorsement in this race, though he said it wasn�t easy.

�The party was upset about my opposition to President Bush when the federal marriage amendment was proposed,� said Schulz. �People haven�t forgotten that.�

Schulz said his campaign is helped by splits in the local Democratic Party, making their candidates weaker, and that the two Republican incumbents he will also be competing against have been weakened by ethical scandals blanketing the Ohio Republican Party.

Incumbent Betty Schultz, whose name is spelled nearly the same, has taken large amounts of money from Tom Noe, the northwest Ohio Republican fundraiser and coin dealer at the heart of the scandals. Schultz testified to the federal grand jury about her involvement in a possible money laundering scheme to get more of Noe�s money into the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. A former Democrat, she did not get her party�s endorsement in this race.

�People think we�re related,� joked Schulz, whose yard signs look similar, too.

Schulz said his campaign has the endorsement of GLU and the support of University of Toledo students as well as many gay Democrats he has worked with on GLBT issues over the years.

Escobar won�t seek re-election

After eight years, Toledo city council president Louis Escobar says he is not seeking re-election.

First elected to council in 1997, Escobar has served as its president since 2003. During his tenure, Toledo passed a human rights ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

At 55, Escobar said, �I�m tired of working two jobs, and wanted to fulfill my life dream of getting a Ph.D. in higher education.�

Escobar is employed as the interim coordinator of the Multi-Cultural Center at the University of Toledo.

Asked if he would consider another public office, Escobar said, �I�ll leave the door open.�

Escobar was touted among Toledo-area Democrats as a possible successor to Mayor Jack Ford or Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Congress.

He said he will be working on forming a statewide Latino political action committee and will continue on the board of the Rainbow Area Youth, which serves LGBT kids.

Escobar is critical of the Toledo LGBT community, which he describes as �factions� and �disappointing.�

�The GLBT community locally has never been supportive of me,� he said, adding that after the city passed a smoking ban, picture posters vilifying him appeared in gay bars.

�I will continue to work for the Victory Fund,� said Escobar, �and go where I can make long lasting contributions to our society--higher education.�

Escobar�s term ends December 31.

Candidate record is tied this year

A total of seven openly gay candidates are running or have run for council seats in Ohio this year, matching the number who did so in 2001. That year, two of the seven, Escobar and Dennis Lange, were also from Toledo.

This year, Schulz and Meinecke join Nickie Antonio in Lakewood, Joe Santiago in Cleveland and Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights as candidates, along with incumbent Columbus council member Mary Jo Hudson who is seeking re-election. The seventh candidate, Tristan Hand of Warren, was defeated in a May primary.

Other than Schulz, all are Democrats.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund of Washington, D.C. has endorsed Antonio, Hudson, Meinecke, Santiago, and Schulz, giving the group its largest presence in any Ohio election year. The fund contributes to the campaigns of openly gay and lesbian candidates who meet their criteria, and also �bundles� separate contributions from its members.

Previously, they have not made more than two Ohio endorsements in a year.

Victory Fund spokesperson Dave DeCicco attributes their presence in Ohio to the qualifications of the individual candidates, the viability of their campaigns, Ohio�s national political importance, and that Ohio has no openly gay state legislator.

Ohio is one of ten states that is part of the fund�s Horizon Campaign, attempting to nurture long-term support for the eventual election of an openly gay House or Senate member.

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