After losing in the primary to electrician Shaun Enright, incumbent councilman Mike Craig held on to his seat in Tuesday’s night general election.
Unofficial results show Craig garnering 3,509 votes (55percent) and Enright getting 2,865 votes (45 percent). If certified, Craig will be entering his second full four-year term. He has already served five years in council.
Craig, 56, is a registered Democrat who has lived on Consaul Street in East Toledo’s Birmingham neighborhood for seven years and before that lived on White Street for 19 years. He has lived in East Toledo 51 years.
Enright, 32, is employed at IBEW Local 8 as a membership/business development representative. He has worked at the IBEW 11 years and has been a resident of District 3 for 31 years.
Enright posed a real threat to Craig because the challenger had 386 votes (39.4 percent) in the September 13 primary, 12 more than Craig (374, 38.2 percent). Challengers Ernie Berry had 170 (17.4) and Hans Schnapp had 50 (5.1).
Much of Enright’s campaign was in support of union rights for workers in light of Issue 2, which was defeated. That will repeal Senate House Bill 5 limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees. However, Craig said he also opposes HB5 and supports workers rights to collectively bargain.
Craig does admit he was concerned about possibly losing his seat.
“You know what, you either run scared or unopposed,” He said. “You know, it was kind of a lost summer. My wife and I normally spend a lot of time riding our bikes together and stuff. I want the winter to hurry up and get over with because that’s something I’d like to do more of. You just can’t do that around here in the winter.”
Craig is promising to concentrate on neighborhoods, which is what Enright based much of his campaign on.
“Our downtown is nice, and we may spend some dollars downtown,” Craig said. “But, we need to make a concerted effort to make sure our neighborhoods are brought up to a decent standard. It will take a while, but we’ve got to do that, because you know what, that’s where people live. They don’t live downtown. We have to make sure that we keep people in the city and hopefully draw some back. We need good neighborhoods to do that.
“I’m thinking of partnering with the (Lucas) County Land Bank — they are doing a great job. The big city issues and stuff we have to address, like we have to balance the budget, but I’m just going to concentrate on working on the neighborhoods.”
Craig says the most pressing issues facing District 3 are economic and neighborhood development.
“These issues are closely related,” Craig said. “Without jobs it is impossible to build stable and sustainable neighborhoods. In order to bring jobs to District 3, all avenues of economic development must be embraced.
“When entrepreneurs and developers come to District 3, we must provide a nurturing environment. In the past, negative attitudes have kept business from relocating to Toledo and these negative attitudes have stifled growth. It is important that city council and community leaders send a message that development is wanted here.
“I will continue to promote Toledo in a positive manner and to forge relationships with area agencies tasked with bringing and retaining new jobs to the area. As an example, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has created many opportunities for growth in the area. Recently, their partnership with the city and Industrial Power Systems created a multi-million dollar solar field at the Toledo water treatment plant in East Toledo.
“Without strong economic opportunities, we will continue to see a decline in the development of our neighborhoods. In order to keep our neighborhoods choice places to live, it is important that we invest further in economic growth but it is also important to invest in neighborhood development.”
Craig mentioned at an East Toledo Club forum held prior to the general election that measures are being taken by an architectural review committee to review plans before the Chinese firm Dashing Pacific moves ahead with construction on the proposed Marina District along the shores of the Maumee River.
“They don’t have any plans yet, but that’s another thing that we need to look at,” Craig said. “Right now, they are doing a market feasibility study and when that gets done, that is going to determine what is going to work there so that they have the right mix of commercial, residential, and retail, so that it is a successful development there. You know, they’ve got 70 acres there — that’s a lot to develop.”
Craig said he will continue to support the Chinese firm.
“Dashing Pacific has shown itself to be an enthusiastic supporter of Toledo and its waterfront. The United States has a 235-year old tradition of bringing people from different cultures to our shores and using their ideas, energy and capital to make the United States a richer and more diverse place to live and do business,” Craig said.
“Dashing Pacific has made a permanent commitment to the Toledo area. The principals expect to live, work and contribute to the Toledo area well into the future. It is always better to embrace a foreign investor when it was impossible to find a domestic investor especially when the other option is to leave a valuable part of the city undeveloped and not working for the people of Toledo.”
One issue that Craig has taken criticism for is not doing enough to stop trucks from illegally using Consaul Avenue. He promises enforcement.
“The issue has been studied and there are 18-wheelers illegally using Consaul Street,” Craig said. “While this is an issue, I feel the best alternative is to add additional signage in the area and contact business so they may alert their drivers of their illegal routes.
“The police force is a precious resource and reallocating them to enforcement of this issue is unnecessary when there are more pressing crime issues in District 3 and in the city of Toledo. The law will be enforced but not at the expense of our citizen’s safety.”
Craig says it has been difficult for the city to maintain services because of budget cuts.
“I have also fought to eliminate blight from our neighborhoods by working to get more vacant and abandoned houses tore down,” Craig said. “It is also important that the residents take ownership of their neighborhoods and I encourage the development of neighborhood associations, block watches, community programs such as community gardens and service organizations.”
Craig graduated from Waite and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toledo. He and wife Karen have three children, Erin, Kevin, and Nikki. He has served on council five years.
Currently, Craig is a member of the executive committee of the Lucas County Democratic party, a member of the Hungarian Club, the Birmingham Development Corp., and the Spanish American Organization.
In the past, he has served as a board of trustee for the East Toledo Senior Center; was a member of the East Toledo Family Center’s youth athletic committee, and also a board member for the Waite High School Athletic Boosters. He says “he also spent numerous years coaching my children’s baseball, basketball and softball teams.”