The local political scene
will, almost assuredly, look far different in the 2023-24
election cycle than it does today. Current Lucas County
officeholders such as Pete Gerken, Bernie Quilter, Tina
Skeldon-Wozniak and Phil Copeland will inevitably exit
public service at some point and move on.
Who will occupy these
political spaces when they become available?
I am told that Mark
Wagoner, Lucas County Republican Chair, has been quietly
working behind the scenes building a formidable machine that
includes scores of new volunteers and fattened the County
GOPís coffers in order to ďget in frontĒ of the anticipated
On the Democratic Party side, keep your eyes on Sam Melden,
a rising star who is being supported by such luminaries as
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. Melden seems to have arrived at
his ďpolitical postpubescenceĒ since previously finishing
some 1,800 votes shy of the final spot for City Council-At
Large in the 2017 municipal elections.
I recently spoke with a much more humble and wiser Melden to
discuss his current campaign for City Council District 5 as
well as his long-term political future.
How is your campaign for City Council going?
We kicked off last week, weíre canvassing this week and
every week between now and the election. So right now, its
recruiting volunteers, raising money and planning different
ways to get our message out there.
Whatís the long-term political vision for Sam Melden?
The answer to this question is one that people donít like.
They donít believe me and they donít like the answer, but
this is the truth. I am focused on the next thing in front
of me. I have zero ambition of serving in any elected office
outside of my community and letís just say Lucas County. So
someday, Commissioner or something like that, maybe, but
thatís not what Iím focused on right now. Iím excited about
serving my neighbors and my neighborhood in District 5 and
Iím focused on it and I want to do it for three terms,
thatís 12 years. I donít spend a whole lot of time scheming
and dreaming about someday.
Youíve got three children under age eight, and I keep
hearing that young people are not running for city council
because the pay is so low that it discourages good talent
because you canít make a living off of what it pays.
Thatís a challenge for our community. And as of right now
weíre a single income household. My wife works full-time,
but her job is raising children. Sheís at home with the
girls that arenít in school and thatís important to us. So,
Iím with you 100 percent.
The blessing, the
opportunity that I have is being a part of an organization
that allows me the flexibility to do this. When I joined
the team at ProMedica I knew that elected office was an
ambition of mine and Iím thankful that they have a very
creative and innovative view of what it means to be involved
in the community, and I think part of that involvement is
encouraging their leaders to be leaders in the community.
In my conversations with ProMedica they have been open to
that [political candidacy] and I am really thankful for it.
What is your role at ProMedica?
I work in patient experience and I also work with the
volunteer services throughout the metro region. The title
technically is the director of volunteer services.
What did you learn from your 2017 experience running for
council and how does the insight inform your current
One lesson is focus. I think that a first-time candidate
has this feeling of wanting to be everywhere. The first time
you do something you donít know what you donít know and I
felt like I had to be everywhere and thereís this fear of
missing out politically. Thereís an event over here,
thereís four events on the calendar this day and so you try
to run to all of these different events and youíre really
only half there mentally. The truth is that a lot of the
people going to these events and festivals are not going to
see you. They are there to enjoy themselves, their family
and their friends, and so thatís why this year, this
campaign is all door-to-door, boots on the ground. Thatís
why we started canvassing in April and itís just direct
voter contact, itís aggressive, itís strategic, itís
targeted, weíre talking to voters. For instance, Iím not
going to be marching in the Old West End Parade, I wonít be
there. Iíll be knocking on the doors of my neighbors in
District 5 talking to them. So thatís one thing that
The other thing I learned
is that I really want to do this. I was really encouraged
last time, even though I wasnít successful in finishing in
the top six. There are people working really, really hard to
move this community forward and I think we just have so many
opportunities in front of us and I want to be a part of
Well you sound a lot more mature, focused and less scripted
than when I talked to you in 2017.
I appreciate that. The name of my game this year is
authenticity, and thatís not to say that I wasnít being
authentic last time, but itís just like everyone knows
whatís at stake. And so, Iím all in, because if I go down
this time, I want to go down as myself. I donít wanna look
back and say oh I really held back because I was afraid what
this group might think, what that group might think. Go out,
be yourself, give it everything you have, leave it all on
the field, so to speak, and then deal with what happens.
What specific policies are you proposing?
I plan to roll policies out strategically during the
campaign. The framework of the campaign is creating safe,
strong, sustainable neighborhoods, thatís the whole game,
safe, strong, sustainable. Any policy I roll out fits
within one of those themes.
By 2020 or 2024, the makeup of Lucas County government could
be very different as current officeholders possibly age out.
What is the Democratic Party doing as far as creating
I think we canít take anything for granted. Everyone talks
about the blue island in a red state, thatís what Lucas
County is. However, land mass will shrink if weíre not
careful and I think the numbers have already shown that
thatís happening. And so, I think that when you talk about
sustainability in the Party there are two things that strike
me. One is, within our party, we have to be aggressive with
recruiting and making new and accessible avenues to young
people to get involved. And that canít just be young people
come to work on campaigns, it has to be young people running
for office. Weíre stronger when we have more candidates and
stronger when we have more people in the party and it canít
just be about self-preservation and holding onto what we
have and so weíve got to be aggressive with getting new
But then the other thing
is I think we have to constantly make sure that our message
is connecting with real people. For instance, what does the
Lucas County Democratic Party have to say to young
families? Honestly? What do we have to say to people who
are moving out of the community because they donít like the
school options? What do we have to say about charter
schools? What do we have to say about starting a business
and economic development? These are things that young
families are thinking about, and I think the Party should be
doing more policy rather than the Party being all about
creating opportunities for candidates. When we just bank on
the candidates coming up with policy, sometimes it works,
but sometimes it doesnít.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz has supported your campaign, which is a
pretty high-powered endorsement.
Iím glad to have his support, for sure.
What other support or endorsements can you claim?
Itís May, itís still early. In 2017 I was endorsed by quite
a few building trades, Toledo Federation of Teachers, UAW,
Local 500, I was really glad to have their endorsements.
Iím not suggesting theyíre going to go with me again but Iím
going through all that process now. I also got a lot of
support from the voters in District 5 last time and I wonít
take their support for granted either. So, Iím going out to
knock on every door two or three times. I wonít take
anything for granted. So, weíll see.
Thank You. And good luck.
Alright. Thank you. Iím really excited to be at this again.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at