Anita López

By La Prensa Staff

LUCAS COUNTY, OH, Feb. 21, 2024: A rare occurrence faces Lucas County voters at the polls March 19, when two high-profile, long-time elected officials square off in a Democratic primary hoping to finish the term of a Lucas County Commission seat.

But that’s exactly the case with Ohio Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-11th District) running against incumbent Anita López, who was recently sworn in as Lucas County Commissioner after giving up her Lucas County Auditor post to replace retired county commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak.

Ms. López and Ms. Hicks Hudson each received a nomination to become county commissioner during a Lucas County Democratic Party central committee meeting in early January. But Ms. Hicks-Hudson, the current party chair, withdrew her nomination in the name of party unity.

Ironically, though, the primary race will split party loyalties for each candidate, who each has proven popular with voters over the past two decades. Early voting started February 21 at the Lucas County Board of Elections, 3737 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo.

Ms. López, an attorney, announced her intent to run for county commissioner last October, shortly after Ms. Wozniak stated her plans to retire at the end of the year. The University of Toledo Law School graduate is the seventh child of migrant farmworkers.

Ms. López started her legal career at the Fair Housing Center, followed by a stint working for the City of Toledo as its director of purchasing, contract compliance, and affirmative action. She first won elected office in 2004 as Lucas County recorder. Two years later, she was elected as the first female county auditor, a post she would go on to win four more times at the ballot box.

Ms. López became the first Latina to serve as a Lucas County commissioner when she was sworn in several weeks ago following her appointment. She is the first person of color to serve as county commissioner in two decades.

Two things in particular made her popular with voters over the last several years. Ms. López started an online tax calculator on the auditor’s website so people would see what their annual property tax bill would look like before they went to the polls to vote on levies. She also openly encouraged property owners to challenge their property values to the board of revision if they believed property re-valuations were too high. That encouragement angered many school districts who stood to lose tax revenue during tough economic times, but López has defended the practice as a way to save taxpayers money with so many levies on the books.

Former Toledo City Council member Katie Moline became the Democratic party’s nominee to replace Ms. Lopez as county auditor. Ms. Moline, a certified public accountant, was sworn in as county auditor earlier this month and must run in November to retain the countywide office.

Paula Hicks-Hudson

Ms. Hicks-Hudson, also an attorney, has served as both a fourth district Toledo City Council member and city council president. She later served as Toledo’s first black female mayor. She worked at the Toledo Legal Aid Society after graduating from the University of Iowa Law School.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson has also been elected as state representative and state senator, touting that experience to bring state money back to Toledo to create jobs and improve infrastructure.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson has served on numerous boards and commissions for nonprofits and community organizations throughout her career. She currently serves as minister of music at her church.

Ms. Hicks Hudson will simply return to finish her term as state senator if she loses next month’s primary. Ms. López would be out of elected office entirely if she fails to retain the county commissioner seat.

The winner of that March primary would face Waterville city councilman John Rozic, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary for county commissioner.