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Toledo--A gay candidate for city council missed the November ballot by ten votes.
Thomas Meinecke, 53, finished third of four in the September 11 primary race for the District 4 city council seat.
Though all four in the race are Democrats, Toledo’s council races are non-partisan, so the two highest vote-getters make the general ballot.
Less than five percent of the 32,000 voters in the district cast ballots. Citywide turnout was only slightly higher at 7.3 percent.
Meinecke said low turnout and voter apathy was the main reason for the result. The district council races were the only things on the ballot, and only three of Toledo’s seven districts had races.
Incumbent Michael Ashford garnered 896 votes, 61.92 percent. He will face Ronnell Traynum in November. She got 213 votes, or 14.72 percent. Meinecke was next with 203 votes, 14.03 percent. Rounding it out was Terry Shankland with 135 votes, 9.33 percent.
Meinecke, who put a lot of effort into absentee voting efforts, led Traynum early in the counting before the majority of the precincts came in.
Meinecke said that Ashford and Traynum, who are African-American, also benefited from efforts to turn out the black vote. He added that despite his efforts, the large LGBT population in the district did not seem to turn out.
“It’s apparent that the LGBT community doesn’t care about having representation on city council,” Meinecke said.
“Had they turned out, things could have been different.”
Meinecke, who was described by the Toledo Blade as an “aggressive campaigner,” said, “I stand here amazed at the lack of enthusiasm for this election.”
This was Meinecke’s second city council bid. He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in 2005.
Meinecke and his partner John Meinecke were early organizers of the Toledo Pride Center and are members of the Toledo Stonewall Democrats and Gays and Lesbians United.
They are known throughout Toledo as the “Valentine Couple” because they go to the Lucas County Courthouse every year on that day to apply for a marriage license.
“I’m not ruling myself out of politics,” said Meinecke, “but I’m done for a while.”
Meinecke, a military veteran of 20 years, recently retired from DaimlerChrysler.
“It’s time to take a break,” Meinecke said, “maybe take John on a cruise. We put ourselves out there and we got to the point where we’re about burned out.”
The remaining gay candidate in Ohio this year is Bill Brownson, a Republican seeking a city council seat in Columbus.
If Brownson wins in November, he will join city councilors Joe Santiago in Cleveland, Nickie Antonio in Lakewood, Winifred Weizer in University Heights, Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights and Eve Sandberg in Oberlin. Other gay officeholders include Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows and Dayton school board member Joe Lacey.