Community Coalition Hosts Candidate Forum

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

Toledo’s Black Brown Unity Coalition and Toledo Community Coalition held the city’s largest candidate forum for the 2022 general election on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at Warren AME Church.

The debate opened with greetings from Black Brown Unity Coalition Co-Chair Baldemar Velasquez and was moderated by The Sojourner’s Truth Publisher, Fletcher Word. The candidates from each party represented in the November General Election were given opportunities to deliver an introduction, closing remarks and answer any question that was submitted by the audience. Not every candidate answered every question that was asked.

Candidates, Lucas County Commissioner

“I’m excited to see people involved in this political process leading up to election day. I’ve been a Sylvania Trustee for 13 years, have worked in finances, and plan to bring those skills into the County Commissioner role. Our city services are depleted, even in Sylvania we find it hard to hire police and fire. We have to work together, from Toledo to Sylvania Township, our crime statistics are pathetic. We are the third worse city in the Midwest behind Chicago and Detroit. We have so many great resources like the Zoo and the Metroparks, but that isn’t enough to draw people here. We must have a safe community. My goal is to help our community and ask for your vote,” explained John Jennewine, Sylvania Township

“I have worked with some neighborhood associations. I served as a Block Watch captain in Point place, a Boy Scouts leader when my boys were active, a soccer mom, and a school volunteer. In order to really understand the county and community, you must be involved in the community. I am ready to step into the role as County Commissioner and have researched and visited jails in Ohio, to better understand how they operate so we can complete that project. I believe that in order to be active, that means showing up all of the time and being responsive all of the time,” explained State Rep. Lisa Sobecki.


Candidate, Lucas County Recorder

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. It’s important to listen to the candidates that are here and I ask for your vote,” explained Michael Ashford, Lucas County Recorder and chairman Lucas County Democratic Party.


Candidates, Ohio Senate District 11

“It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where people care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, I say who cares. We need to get back to basics and fight for our state and our cities. We need to move forward to help our youth. I have volunteered with a boxing gym that provided positive opportunities for the youth,” explained Tony Dia.

“This area used to be Ohio District 44 and I used to serve Ohio District 44, but it’s no longer Ohio District 44. I am now running for Ohio Senate District 11. I am the most qualified candidate, I want to continue to represent this community and also the entire county. Many of you have seen my successful history, from my time as Toledo’s Mayor and on Toledo city council,” explained State Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson.


Candidate, Ohio House District 41

“I’m a social worker by trade, and saw so many negative things going on that led me to become an activist. I want to take that activism to the legislature. Being a social worker has taught me how to listen. I will do what I can to ensure that the make the laws, follow the law. I’m a pro choice candidate even though I was raised Catholic. I don’t believe that it’s the state’s job to make that choice,” explained Nancy Larson.


Candidate, Ohio House District 42

“How can we address the housing stock problem? Let me start by saying that I am a Democrat, but when people see that label they already have something to say about me. My community work shows that I am committed to this community. When we talk about affordable housing, why aren’t we talking about homeownership. Let’s have real conversations with community leaders. People don’t just want affordable housing, they want a house that is livable. They want a home where they can raise their families while remaining safe and secure,” explained Erika White.

Candidates, Ohio House District 43

“When it comes to redistricting maps, we need to also talk about how the maps are impacted by Supreme Court judge appointments. If you want to make sure that we have fair representation and fair maps, it’s important to consider who your elected officials are and vote for those who understand redistricting,” explained Michele Grim, Toledo City Councilwoman.

“When it comes to affordable housing, the question is why do people need affordable housing. We need to empower people to get a job, so they can make their own money, so they can afford a home. Did you know that we’re a sanctuary city? Meaning, that people from other areas can obtain affordable housing. We need to teach them and help them so they can get off assistance. Yes, we need better housing options, but we also need to provide better tools,” explained Wendi Hendricks.


Candidates, Ohio House District 44

“The reason why I am running is for this seat, is to help the disenfranchised people so they can build a better life for themselves. To represent those who feel ignored. I want to represent this community and so I ask for your vote,” explained Roy Palmer III.

“I’m running because the people that you elect should represent you, and make sure that voting rights are protected. I will be accessible to you and response to you. Thank you for your support, proud Toledo native,” explained Elgin Rogers Jr.


Candidates, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division

“When it comes to youth offenders, as a former prosecutor I believe prosecutes are gatekeepers. Prosecutors represent everyone in the courtroom, even the defendant, to ensure that justice is fair far. As a judge, my role is to be impartial and fair, and to make the justice is served by providing access to resources. I don’t believe that defendants are being railroaded, as the question poses. As judges we make sure that they have the resources that they need,” explained Vallie Bowman-English, Toledo Municipal Clerk of Court.

“I was appointed last year. I come before you with 29 years of experience, I worked in the prosecutor’s office and trained in behavioral therapy which I use. I’ve served years in the auditor’s office  and all of those skills assist me everyday with my job, which I love. I love reaching out to people,” explained Judge Linda Knepp.


Candidates, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, General Division

“I have lived in Lucas County for the past 24 years, and for the last 16 or 17 years, I have worked as a defense attorney. The vast majority of my court appointed clients were people of color and in that experience I learned that there is a disconnect between the defendant, the victim, the court system and the community. My goal is to bridge those connections,” explained Meira Zucker.

“All of these other candidates get to say what they will do this and do that, but as a judicial candidate I can tell you that I’m going to be efficient and care about this community. What I want to do on the bench, when I see a person in front of me,  is to make sure that I don’t see them in front of me again. love Toledo and want to continue serving you,” explained Judge Lori Olender.

In addition to election candidates, representatives in support of local levies were invited to present information and answer audience questions. Jason Kucsma, Toledo Lucas County Public Library Executive Director asked for voters to support Issue 11, a five-year renewal. Matt Killam, Toledo Metroparks Chief Outreach Officer asked that voters support Issue 7, a 10-year renewal. Deicie Sawyers, Imagination Station’s Community Engagement Coordinator asked that voters support Issue 10, a 5-year renewal.


Link to Ohio Senate District map:

Link to Ohio House District map: