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GOP promises lively races for City Hall
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Robert Vitale and Jodi Andes

Still smarting from their drubbing in state and county elections last fall, Republicans offered their slate of candidates last night for City Hall races in which they’ve had little recent success.

They acknowledged an uphill fight — the party hasn’t held an elective office in Columbus since 2003 — but promised a feisty campaign against Democratic Mayor Michael B. Coleman and five council Democrats.

William Todd, a Northwest Side lawyer who’s running for mayor, said he’ll challenge Coleman on "the wasted opportunities and false starts of the last eight years," which he said are driving city residents to suburbs and neighboring counties.

Republicans said they’ll stress quality-of-life issues such as crime and safety, road conditions and city-code enforcement.

The party’s theme for 2007 is "Re-form Columbus," a hyphenated slogan meant to include ethics and campaignfinance reforms as well as changes designed to remake City Council.

"We can’t sit still," said Todd, who called for term limits on city offices and neighborhood representation on council.

Republicans also endorsed four council candidates: Paul Bingle, a Clintonville conservationist; Mark Rickel, a Northwest Side resident who most recently worked as spokesman for Gov. Bob Taft; Heidi Samuel, a former president of the Eastmoor Civic Association; and Larry Thomas, a Far East Side trial lawyer.

Brad Sinnott, chairman of the Franklin County GOP central committee, said a fifth council candidate dropped out at the last minute because of work conflicts.

Party leaders hope to add another candidate to fill out the slate, Sinnott said. They have yet to decide who will run as part of a four-candidate field and who will run in a head-tohead contest to finish the term of former Councilwoman Mary Jo Hudson, who resigned to join Gov. Ted Strickland’s cabinet.

Council Democrats have chosen Priscilla Tyson, a former banking and health-care executive, to replace Hudson. Andrew Ginther, another new appointee who is coming from the Columbus school board, and incumbents Michael C. Mentel, Charleta Tavares and Patsy Thomas also are on the Democratic slate this year.

Coleman has yet to formally announce his run for a third four-year term but was endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party on Tuesday.

County Democratic Chairman William A. Anthony Jr. said he was surprised that the Republican candidates don’t have more experience in public office.

"Nobody there has done anything in politics," he said. "And running Taft’s spokesman doesn’t make a lot of sense with all the problems Taft had."

The Republican City Hall slate consists entirely of firsttime candidates.
"I’m not a politician," Samuel said. "I’m a mother and a community activist."
Of Todd, who has helped a number of GOP causes, Sinnott said: "We wanted to find an intelligent, articulate candidate who can call out Michael Coleman, and we couldn’t get Glenn Beck."

During his brief run for governor in 2005, Coleman had an on-air run-in with the conservative talk-radio host that came to symbolize his ill-fated campaign.

The Republican slate includes a husband-wife pair. Isabella Thomas is making her second run for a Franklin County Municipal Court judgeship. She’s married to council candidate Larry Thomas.

Larry Thomas urged local Republicans to get over 2006 defeats and work for the party’s candidates.

"We need help," he told GOP activists last night. "You have to have high hopes. You have to be willing to fight."


Copyright © 2007, The Columbus Dispatch


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