Listening Through the Cracks: Potential Moves in Toledo Politics

Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor

   Even closed doors have cracks.    – Proverb

Anita Lopez’s selection to fill the retired Tina Skeldon Wozniak’s seat on the Board of Lucas County Commissioners has lit a match to behind-the-scenes whispers, murmurs and subtle indications of potential moves that could shape Toledo’s evolving political future.

When a prominent figure like Lopez ascends to the eighth floor of One Government Center, it sets off a chain reaction of potential appointments and vacancies. Who will fill the void? Who will be the new voices shaping policy decisions? What political actors are rising or falling, becoming relevant or irrelevant?

Here are some rumors and speculations about the consideration of key appointments, the formation of political alliances, and the negotiation of policy decisions that, although hidden from public view, have slipped through the cracks of the city’s complex closed-door politics and intricate networks of influence.

Lucas County Auditor:

The whispered conversations behind closed doors paint a vivid picture, with one name and one name only mentioned as the favorite to succeed Lopez as Lucas County Auditor. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with experience in auditing large corporations, City Councilwoman Katie Moline brings a wealth of financial expertise to the table.

From real estate assessments to overseeing intricate details like gas pumps and butcher scales, the role demands someone who can ensure the smooth operation of these functions. Her background and qualifications align seamlessly with the duties and responsibilities of the position, particularly in the realm of auditing and financial assessments.

Without question, Katie Moline possesses the operational acumen to excel in this capacity. When the Lucas County Democratic Party’s central committee meets on January 30 to appoint Anita Lopez’s replacement as Auditor, Katie Moline will get that position, thus creating a resulting vacancy on the Toledo City Council.

Councilwoman Tiffany Whitman, EdD

TWO (not one) City Council Vacancies

In addition to Moline’s exit, at-large Councilperson Tiffany Preston Whitman, Ed.D., will also leave council this week to take a role in Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s administration as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Whitman was appointed to her seat on Toledo City Council on September 22, 2020, was elected on November 2, 2021, and her term would have ended on January 5, 2026, if she were not to join the mayor’s administration.

Highly touted as a potential future mayoral candidate, Whitman replaces former DEI Director Lacy DeBerry, just hired in 2022. Whitman’s professional experience includes working as the director of academic innovation and testing services for University College at the University of Toledo. She received a bachelor’s degree in African & African American Studies and History from Ohio State University, a master’s degree in history from Ohio State University, and an Ed.D. in education leadership from Bowling Green State University.

Leading Candidates for Two City Council Vacancies

The exit of Moline and Whitman could significantly affect the 7-5 advantage women currently wield on Toledo City Council.

Perennial on-again-off-again candidate Michael K. Hart has been “circling around” for the position. Hart is currently the director of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. He (and others) have been raising their hand, pulling it down, and then putting it back up, so to speak, for various political positions — alternatively volunteering and then subsequently dropping out, ultimately unable to commit.

Mac Driscoll is another candidate receiving buzz for the upcoming council vacancies.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo and a master’s from Cleveland State University. A Lucas County Young Dems member, Driscoll performed well as a previous candidate for Toledo City Council At-Large.

Mac used his economic development and urban planning experience to campaign on neighborhood development, economic opportunity, and environmental sustainability to build stronger, safer and more economically thriving neighborhoods.

He is currently the treasurer for the Lucas County Democratic Party and has been helpful to many other candidates. Driscoll also impressed Party leaders when he ran for office previously. He has a reputation of “knowing what he was doing, pretty smart.”

Driscoll is interested in the appointment and would be an excellent choice.

Finally, another exemplary potential city council nominee is Christine Varwig. Currently the executive assistant for Lucas County Commissioner Lisa Sobecki, Varwig also serves as Toledo Public School Board member and president of the Ohio School Boards Association.

Varwig is very active in the Lucas County Democratic Party, and her appointment would undoubtedly be celebrated by the council and enthusiastically approved by the Democratic Party’s central committee. Yet, appointing Varwig could limit her current occupational or political flexibility and potentially necessitate a pay cut.

Another Name to Keep in Mind:

Paula Hicks Hudson’s term as Democratic Party Chair is up in March. I’m hearing that other people are “coming for it.”  One of the persons interested is Schuyler Beckwith, who mounted an unsuccessful but impressive campaign for office in Oregon. Beckwith has been superb at organizing canvassing operations and campaigns for the Democrats. More impressive is that when she says she will do something she goes forward and accomplishes what she promises.

Council President Carrie Hartman

In the end, though, the Lucas County Democratic Party’s central committee will decide on the Auditor’s position on January 30. Toledo City Council will subsequently then act on the two city council vacancies, usually with recommendations from the Party.

However, the latest information indicates that City Council is “not looking to get input from the Party.”

The recent vote for the position of Council President shed light on the presence of two distinct caucuses within Toledo City Council, each comprising its own members. One caucus materialized when Councilmember Nick Komives, who had sought the presidency, fell short of the required votes.

Councilmember Carrie Hartman secured the position with the backing of Komives, Sam Melden, Theresa Gadus, and those who had initially supported McPherson, including John Hobbs, Vanice Williams and Whitman, all throwing their support behind Carrie Hartman. On the opposing side, a separate faction nominated Councilmember Theresa Morris, garnering the support of George Sarantou and Adam Martinez. This history is worth monitoring closely.

Meanwhile, an ongoing effort to balance the interests of different constituencies underscores the deliberations surrounding the potential choices.

Nevertheless, when it comes down to making the final decisions, the authoritative role of Labor in the Party becomes evident.

In this context, the Building Trades, known for their decisive influence, will play a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at