The local environmental group Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie endorsed candidates for Toledo City Council and mayor Monday outside the Lucas County Early Vote Center, and then more than a dozen of them went in and voted.
Mike Ferner, founder of the group, said the endorsements were based on the candidates pledging to vote to pass a resolution to declare Lake Erie impaired and to have the city join the federal lawsuit to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make that designation.
Wade Kapszukiewicz, who was endorsed by the group for mayor, criticized his opponent, incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, for not changing her mind earlier to support the designation of impaired for western Lake Erie.
He said the group’s advocacy changed minds at the highest levels of city government in favor of the impairment designation.
“The mayor’s flip-flop never would have happened without you,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “Had the mayor taken this action sooner when there was a different president, that president and his EPA almost certainly would have provided to help clean up Lake Erie.”
About 20 people stood with their signs advocating a “Clean Slate” at the Early Vote Center, 1301 Monroe St.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson reversed her longstanding opposition to the designation on Sept. 26, saying she did so to enable the community to speak with one voice. She had opposed it because she believed it would lead to more environmental regulations that would end up raising the fees paid by Toledo consumers, and that the better course was for an executive order by the president.
The mayor’s change of mind came as Lake Erie was under an influx of algae and the green slime was spreading down the Maumee River into Toledo. Despite the abundance of algae, it has not caused a repeat of the 2014 Toledo water crisis that affected roughly 500,000 residents.
Also endorsed in Monday’s event were council challengers Harvey Savage, Nick Komives, and Sam Melden.
“Current members of city council have had at least two years to pass an impaired resolution, and they did nothing,” Mr. Ferner said.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz, the Lucas County treasurer, endorsed the designation in May. The Lucas County commissioners approved a resolution in January, 2015.
Toledo City Council is scheduled to hear testimony in a committee of the whole meeting at 4 p.m. Monday on a proposed resolution seeking impaired status under the U.S. Clean Water Act.
Mayor Hicks-Hudson said she has always been an advocate for a clean Lake Erie. She said one of the first things she did when she took office was write a letter to President Obama asking for an executive order, a request she repeated when President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20. She also said she got herself named to the water quality task force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“If you look at all the things I’ve done around this issue, I’m not a Johnny come lately,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.