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FOR LOCAL CANDIDATES, WEB IS LOW-KEY TOOL

Candidates for local office have not employed the top-end bells and whistles that mark the Internet sites of the presidential candidates, but at least some of them have established a beachhead.

The local sites act mostly as a passive window on the campaigns, giving voters an idea of who the candidates are and why they are interested in serving in public office. Photographs appear on each page, but the graphics are otherwise limited in scope, in part to help the pages load quickly and in part to keep the expense of the site to a minimum.

Paula Ross, chairwoman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, said she has not emphasized the Internet as a campaign tool with her local candidates this year because she did not want them to ignore political basics. "It is a nice add-on," she said, adding that it cannot take the place of door-to-door canvassing or appearances at local festivals and forums.

Ms. Ross said she has decided not to establish a web site for the county party yet because she does not want to do so before she is certain such a site can be properly maintained.
State Rep. Jim Mettler, a member of the Ohio House Technology Caucus, has established a site that acts as a service bureau for constituents in his west and south Toledo district and as a campaign tool.

The site is paid for with money from the Republican's campaign.
"It lets people find out things at their own pace," he said, adding that he spends about an hour at the end of each day responding to all his electronic mail and occasionally chatting live with constituents online. "It certainly doesn't replace going into the neighborhood and meeting with people in their homes," he said.

Mr. Mettler's opponent in House District 52, teacher Teresa Fedor, also maintains a web site where she touts what she has said is the most important issue to her campaign: state school funding reform.

State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) and his opponent, Democrat John Billis, have sites. Mr. Olman touts his legislative record, while Mr. Billis has posted his arguments for ousting Mr. Olman from public office.

Lawyer Mark Berling, a Republican running against Judge James Bates, has used his web site to outline what he said is the most important issue in the race: an alleged conflict of interest in the local judicial system because Judge Bates in married to Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates. On his site, Mr. Berling cites dozens of criminal cases that have been removed from Judge Bates's courtroom at the request of defendants because of the relationship between the judge and the prosecutor.

Democrat Chris Redfern has a basic site designed, he said, by two high schoolers. He said they update it when they can but that there is no set schedule for such maintenance. "It was $300 well spent," he said.

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I-280 Bridge
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