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      Billboard slams Anita Lopez campaign

      As Toledo??s mayoral race heats up the war of words has risen to new heights, and one candidate is throwing some very public punches.

      Last week, the first attack ads rose up about fifty feet in the air. The Joe McNamara campaign has paid for two billboards that accuse Anita Lopez of misusing tax-payer dollars to give politically-motivated raises to staffers in the Auditor??s office.

      The billboard on Monroe Street reads ??Toledo??s Josh Mandel: Anita Lopez Gives Fat Raises to Unqualified Staff.?? The ad on Reynolds Road says ??Toledo??s Josh Mandel: Anita Lopez Used $150K of Your Money to Give Fat Raises to Her Political Staffers.??

      It is a message the McNamara campaign has reiterated throughout the campaign. A postcard sent out to voters last week also compared Lopez to Mandel.

      McNamara said in a statement, ??Less than one year after Toledo voters overwhelmingly rejected Josh Mandel??s corrupt politics, Anita Lopez is running for Mayor with a very similar track record. These billboards show how Lopez has used the taxpayer??s money like her own political piggy bank. Voters will reject a politician who thinks that taxpayers should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their own corrupt political agenda.??

      Lopez campaign spokeswoman Diane May responded with the following statement to WNWO:

      "This is another desperate ploy for attention from a campaign that has failed to gain any momentum. As Auditor, Anita Lopez has hired talented men and women who have given the Auditor's Office a record of excellent customer service while saving taxpayers millions of dollars."

      Lopez went on the offensive in her own campaign's press release sent on Sunday. May responded to Joe McNamara's first television ad:

      "It??s laughable for Councilman McNamara to paint himself as a political outsider when he??s been on City Council since 2007. Despite his years of experience, his ad failed to mention even one of his accomplishments on Council." May continued, ??In contrast, Anita Lopez has spent her time in the Auditor??s office cutting the budget, reducing staff, and setting aside $2 million to replace the tax accounting system. In the final days of the primary election, Anita Lopez will continue to run on her record of creating an efficient government office that delivers excellent customer service.??

      Candidate D. Michael Collins rejected the political mud-slinging.

      ??This community, this state, and this nation has had enough of negative campaigning,?? said Collins. He added, ??Let??s talk about who you are and what you??re going to do, let??s not talk about your opponents and where you feel their failures or qualifications are challenged.??

      On Monday, WNWO and the Toledo Free Press will hold a forum for all of the Toledo mayoral candidates. It is being held at the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in downtown, Toledo. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the forum itself begins at 6:30 p.m. You can watch the forum live on WNWO??s Digital 2 channel or online at www.northwestohio.com .