Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Democratic commission candidate still unclear


Around the suburbs

The messy GOP primary race between Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin and challenger Pat DeWine could prompt Republican-leaning voters to look for other options this fall.

It's unclear, however, who their Democratic alternative will be.

Kabaka Oba and Erich Streckfuss are competing for the party's nomination March 2, but Streckfuss is only a placeholder. If he wins the primary, Democrats have until August to replace him with a better-known candidate.

County Democratic Co-Chairman Tim Burke is still hoping to put up Forest Park Mayor Stephanie Dumas, who is not running in the primary because of an unresolved job conflict.

What party leaders probably didn't count on is the campaign Oba has mounted.

Oba, self-styled "general'' of the pro-boycott group The Black Fist, is a new man these days. Gone is the anti-Semitic ranting for which he was known at Cincinnati City Hall, and in its place is talk of lowering taxes and attracting jobs.

Oba says he was making the point that if racism is unacceptable at City Hall, allowing the Ku Klux Klan on Fountain Square is equally unacceptable.

"Commissioner candidate" is a different role than "activist," he says, and he has accordingly changed his approach.

"Generally (audiences) decide, 'He may not be a bad guy. But I still may not vote for him,'" Oba says good-naturedly.

Cindi Andrews

NO SALE: Saying they wouldn't back a candidate who takes campaign money from developers, Warren County Commissioners Larry Crisenbery and Mike Kilburn have endorsed educator John Lazares.

They say he's the only one of the four Republicans competing to succeed Crisenbery who supports impact fees on development.

"The list of contributors to the (Dave) Young and (John) McCurley campaigns read like a Who's Who of the Rich and Famous in Southwest Ohio," Kilburn and Crisenbery say in a statement. "... We are concerned that our board's integrity is about to be threatened by these high-roller influence peddlers."

The endorsement may come as a surprise to McCurley supporters: Crisenbery is the one who encouraged the Mason councilman to run in the first place.

Erica Solvig

KIDS STUFF: It's not politics, it's personal, in the race for Butler County GOP Central Committee representative in Oxford's 4HH precinct.

Committee member Roger Gates, an assistant prosecutor, is being challenged by Miami University student Ashley Fox. She's the 21-year-old daughter of Commissioner Michael A. Fox.

Gates wrote the legal opinion that said Fox's report criticizing Butler County judges could not be posted on the county Web site. Gates also is the statutory agent for his son's Internet company, which hosts the anti-Fox site www.Foxtracker.com.

Says Fox: "I guess I don't have any more control over my own daughter than he has over his own son."

John Kiesewetter




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