Charged council members have long history of public service

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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Yvonne Harper took her District 4 city council seat in 2015. She’d previously been a bailiff for 21 years. Harper was the top contender to replace Paula Hicks-Hudson for the position when Hudson took the Mayor’s office. She faced scrutiny when the Toledo Blade reported she owed $4,500 in state income tax. She claimed the lien against her was a mistake and later withdrew her name for the appointment. But later ran and won the seat with more than 73% of the vote.

Harper sits on many committees, including small business and zoning. In 2018, Harper made headlines when she posted what some considered a profane and derogatory remark on Facebook. She later took the post down and apologized.

Harper is the former executive director of the Lucas County Democratic Party and the former chair of the Toledo NAACP Freedom Fund.

Councilman Tyrone Riley is a criminal defense attorney. He’s been on the city council for eight years with his current term up in 2024. He’s won his seat each time without the Democratic party’s endorsement.

Among his campaign platform promises. Small business development and continued growth for the Dorr Street Corridor.

Riley made headlines in 2018 when he was accused by the owners of Andy’s Restaurant of walking without pay his bill. Riley maintained that it was a misunderstanding and that he had an agreement with the prior owners of the restaurant for a running tab.

Businessman Gary Johnson has been on Toledo City Council for two years and sits on a number of committees including zoning. He’s also been on the Lucas County Sheriff’s Auxiliary for almost three decades. But after the Federal Bribery and Extortion charges were filed, Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp stripped Johnson of his auxiliary role and deputy powers.

Johnson gained attention recently when he ran in the primary for the Democratic soon on the ticket for Lucas County Sheriff. He was defeated in the primary.

Councilman Larry Sykes has the highest public profile of the four members charged. He has been an At-Large Councilman for 7-years. Sykes retired as the Vice President of Community Affairs form 5/3 Bank after 30-years.

Sykes has also served for many years on several high profile community boards including the Toledo Public School Board of Education and Lucas County Children’s Services.

He’s also made headlines. In 2014 he claimed a white TPD Officer pulled him over after racially profiling him. Sykes later issued a public apology to the officers involved after a TPD internal affairs report found his accusation to be unfounded.

In 2017, Sykes was arrested for assault, after allegedly punching local activist Julian Mack at a campaign event.

And this past February Sykes claimed Toledo Fire response time was too slow after a woman collapsed outside the fire administration building. Sykes would again later apologize when it was revealed crews responded in three minutes.

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