Five vying for seats on Walbridge Council

WALBRIDGE – Come January, village council could have a very different makeup. With next week’s election,
the governing body could have five women and one man. Currently there are two women and four men on
Another quirky fact about this election: Two of the five seeking office are write-in candidates.
Running for the four seats are incumbent Ed Kolanko; Pat Fox, who was appointed to council this summer;
Traci Taylor, who served on council previously and made an unsuccessful run for mayor; and two
newcomers, Sue Hart-Douglas and Jan Sawaya, who have a lot in common.
Kolanko is hoping his experience, which includes three-and-a-half years on council, will propel him to a
second term.
"There’s a learning curve that is part of the government process," said Kolanko, who is 36 and
is self-employed as a financial adviser in Walbridge. "The more I learn, the more I think I can add
value and contribute in a positive way."
During his term on council, he said he’s assisted in maintaining the budget, "making some good
decisions financially to make sure we’re operating within our means." Kolanko’s also served two
years as chairman of the streets committee.
He said the village’s roads definitely need improvements, but that needs to be balanced with finances.

"Of course it’s frustrating, but it’s also understandable. Our budget is not a huge budget and we’ve
got to be very cognizant of where our money’s spent."
Kolanko is unmarried and has lived in Walbridge almost his whole life.
Fox, 65, was appointed to council in August when Ron Liwo resigned. He hadn’t planned on seeking the seat
for a full term, but changed his mind when only three people filed for the four seats in August.
"Nobody else had applied so instead of waiting for Dan (Mayor Wilczynski) to appoint me, I thought I
might as well run," said Fox, who previously served six years on council.
If elected, he hopes to serve on the safety, streets or buildings and lands committees. Fox, who is
married and has four children, has owned a barbershop in Walbridge with his brother for 42 years.
Taylor has been out of the Walbridge spotlight for six years after she lost a run for mayor. She had
served on council for 10 years.
The bug to serve the community has bitten her again, said Taylor, who is 50 and works for Associated
Anesthesia of Toledo. She and her husband Steve have two grown daughters.
"I miss not being involved with the community anymore. I really miss it."
If elected, Taylor said she would serve on any committee, but she does have her favorites. "There
are some streets that need repaired. And you know me, I’m for the parks and the kids."
She’s been campaigning around the village, passing out flyers with her name on it for the write-in
Terry Burton, Wood County Board of Elections, said almost any form of the write-in candidate’s name will
be accepted on the ballot.
"If we can determine who the voter was attempting to vote for … we give it to them," he said.
"If it was Robert Smith, Bob Smith would be fine. Even first initial, last name."
New to politics are Sawaya and Hart-Douglas, whose names will appear on Tuesday’s ballot along with
Kolanko’s. The two women have a lot in common: They both live in Walnut Hills Mobile Home Park, have a
background in the health care field and are unmarried.
"I’ve been interested in the politics up here for the last couple of years," said Sawaya, who
is 66 and has lived in the village for 29 years. "I follow politics quite closely. … I’m very
interested in what’s going on in the village."
If elected, she hopes to serve on the finance committee or utilities and personnel. Sawaya used to own a
restaurant and lounge in Toledo. She gave it up and went back to school to become an ultrasound
technician when her husband died.
She’s a member of St. Jerome Catholic Parish in Walbridge and is proud of starting the Helping Hands of
St. Louis 29 years ago at her former church in Toledo. The group still provides meals to the needy,
Sawaya said.
"We served a lot of people and I always felt good about that. I’m proud of the fact that it’s still
up and running."
Hart-Douglas is also a member of St. Jerome’s. She’s interested in joining council and representing her
neighbors in the trailer park, many of whom she’s known for 30 years. She said many people in Walbridge
would probably recognize her as the lady who likes to walk her basset hounds in one of the village
The 62-year-old said she is fully recovered from some health problems and wanted to get back involved
with the community. "And when they asked me (to run for council), I said, ‘Yeah … let’s do
Hart-Douglas works for AdvoCare, helping people get back to work, and part-time for St. Charles Mercy
Hospital, Oregon.
"I enjoy working. I enjoy working with people," she said.