- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Toledo’s current mayor emerged from a crowded election field of seven candidates and will finish the term of her predecessor, who died last February.

Paula Hicks-Hudson, the former city council president, was sworn in as mayor following the death of D. Michael Collins. She got voters’ support Tuesday to serve the final two years remaining in his term.

“It’s a victory for the party, but it’s also a victory for the working men and women in our community who believe that when you have ideas and you have commitment and we work together that we can make a difference in our community,” the Democrat told WTVG-TV.

She claimed victory with about three-fourths of the precincts counted, boasting strong leads over former Toledo mayors Mike Bell and Carty Finkbeiner, according to unofficial returns.

One of the biggest issues in the election was how to improve water quality in Lake Erie following the contamination of the city drinking water system in August 2014.

Hicks-Hudson had said that in her short time as mayor she made sure there wasn’t a repeat of the water crisis. She won the endorsement of the local Democratic party and several influential labor unions.

The special election in Ohio’s fourth-largest city was a bit of a free for all because the city charter dictated that there would be no primary to narrow down the field. The format enticed several longtime politicians in Toledo and a couple of newcomers to join the race.

Collins’ widow, Sandy Drabik Collins, decided to run as an independent for the office last spring because she wanted to carry out the agenda of her late husband, who was just over a year into his first term when he died after suffering cardiac arrest.

Bell, who was mayor before being defeated by Collins, ran again as an independent and had the backing of the Republican party in Toledo and many local business groups.

Others in the race included first-term councilwoman Sandy Spang and former councilman Mike Ferner, who ran for mayor 22 years ago and lost by less than 700 votes.

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