Throughout the political race this summer, Ms. López has made it
clear she understands the problems of the Latino community, both
locally and nationally.
“I’m Mexican-American, born and raised in the Old South End—so
being Latina and the challenges my family faced really helped to
develop who I am,” she said.
Ms. López cited her experience as county auditor and recorder as
what sets her apart from the other challengers for Toledo
“None of them have ever run an office, with all the
responsibility on their shoulders—the budget cuts we had to
make, the changing of the quality of the work that we do for the
public, instilling outstanding customer service,” she said.
“When we made budget cuts, we saved dollars and really changed
the face and the culture of government. None of them have that
level of experience and be able to do that in a collective
Ms. López struck a nerve with some public agencies and
institutions during her time as county auditor, by encouraging
property owners to challenge their values during the recent
recession. Those efforts cost Toledo Public Schools and others
tax dollars when some property values were lowered as a result.
But she won the respect of many taxpayers, and she hopes,
voters, for that approach.
“Not only have I proven to the public that I can be a great
mayor, but that I can do it with a union workforce,” she said.
“I think we need to stop pointing the finger at management and
the workforce and just hold everyone equally accountable.”
Ms. López gave herself a grade of “B-” for her performance in
the first mayoral debate.
“I could do better. I could speak shorter,” she admitted. “I
needed to come out stronger in my opening statement.”
Many political observers believe the mayor’s race will come down
to Mayor Mike Bell versus one of the two Democrats: Ms.
López and former Toledo City Council president Joe McNamara.
Hoping to court loyal Democrats, McNamara has turned to
attacking Ms. López for giving employee raises and collecting
campaign donations from workers.
“I think he’s coming after me because his message is not
resonating,” she said. ‘It’s a campaign that’s failing to
connect with citizens. I think clearly Joe is worried about me
and he’s forgotten we’re running against Mike Bell. Anytime
someone goes negative and spends that kind of money they see me
as a threat. I think it’s surprising that a liberal Democrat is
attacking a minority female.”
Her main campaign themes center around creating quality jobs,
safer neighborhoods, and a transparent city government that
prides itself on public service.
Most of the major candidates also have stated they intend to
focus on improving education as mayor, even though, as an
elected official, they have no direct decision-making authority
on Toledo Public Schools or Washington Local Schools operations.
Ms. López has pledged to appoint “a blue-ribbon committee” to
see what can be done.
“We’re going to bring in all of the entities who work with youth
and it’s going to be a children-first policy,” said the divorced
mother of two boys. “We’re going to sit down and try to get
everyone to approach it from a holistic approach. I think the
future of our workforce, the future of our city is dependent on
significant changes that we’re going to have to make on how we
serve our children.”
Ms. López pointed out that too many children in Toledo are
living in poverty, a figure that she believes is much more
troublesome in African-American and Latino families.
“We cannot even be a contender for economic development from
national investors if we don’t have a city that is strong and
stable,” she stated.
Ms. López is the single mother of two sons.
Although Toledo’s metro unemployment rate has dropped from
nearly 14 percent to just over nine percent in the past few
years, the economic climate locally has drawn comparisons to the
bankruptcy situation now facing Detroit, the Motor City. Some
have even called Toledo “Little Detroit”—fearing the Glass City
could end up in a similar plight.
“I don’t want to be Little Detroit,” said Ms. López. “I think
this city cannot wait for new leadership. I don’t think it’s
turning around fast enough.”
While Toledo has seen significant investment and added jobs from
Chrysler and GM, as well as the opening of a new casino, Ms.
López still criticized the mayor for his economic development
“Underemployment is no different that unemployment,” she said.
“People are having to work two and three jobs to make ends meet,
because it’s not the same quality of life we’ve been
experiencing before the recession. We’ve not been able to turn
that around fast enough. It’s the quality of life, quality of
“The conditions of our streets, the conditions of our
neighborhoods—if he goes door-to-door and talks to citizens, I
think he’s going to get a rude awakening,” she said.
Ms. López has received strong union backing in her bid for
mayor, even though many in organized labor are waiting until
after the Sept. primary to endorse a candidate.
Teamsters Local #20
made a strong showing at a rally outside One Government Center
recently, just before Ms. López turned in her petition
signatures to become mayor. The transportation union represents
5,800 members locally, 60 percent of whom live in the Toledo
city limits. But Teamsters leaders made it clear their mission
is to defeat Mayor Bell because of his support of SB 5 and the
contract concessions he forced on municipal unions to balance
“It’s always hard to beat an incumbent, but we think we can do
it,” said Bill Lichtenwald, Teamsters Local #20
Whether that makes organized labor “pro-López” or “anti-Bell”
forces may be open to interpretation as a result.
“I think it’s pro-López because I believe in collective
bargaining, pro-López because I haven’t forgotten where I come
from, pro-López because I have a track record of being able to
work and create an office that’s productive under a union
contract,” the county auditor said.