The Nov. 6 election will be the climax of an increasingly fierce seven-person race for two seats on the Toledo Board of Education.
Unlike some other elections for the city's school board, this one moved into high gear with a former Toledo mayor unexpectedly entering the contest, mini-debate after debate, wrangling among the candidates, and one endorsed candidate dropping out after an indictment on six counts of child endangerment.
The Blade asked the candidates to answer questions about themselves and address some of the issues facing the 29,000-student school system. Many of the answers boiled down to one thing: The school system needs change, and each candidate believes he or she is the person who will make that happen.
One seat was vacated by Deborah Barnett's resignation in May. The other is currently occupied by Larry Sykes, who is not seeking re-election after a decade on the board.
When former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford was appointed to complete Ms. Barnett's term, he said he had no intention of running.
Two months later, Mr. Ford announced he would run for the four-year term and, if elected, fight for changes in the way the system is managed and promote radical change to improve student performance.
Mr. Ford, a full-time professor at Bowling Green State University, released a 10-point plan to fix the school system. Among his ideas are greater emphasis on early childhood education, using community support more effectively, and "unconventional initiatives."
The race to win Toledo Board of Education seats began in March with Republican Chris Myers, a University of Michigan Webmaster, who laid out criticisms of current board members and his ideas for improving the school system.
Mr. Myers, who unsuccessfully ran for the board in November, 2005, said last week that he wants more technology for students. Earlier in the month he announced his idea to start a "Young Educators Society" chapter in Toledo to encourage children to enter the teaching profession.
Point Place resident Lisa Sobecki, president of the Ottawa River Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization, whose slogan is "Mom on a Mission," also promises action.
"It's time to put away the politics of personality and unite in the cause of improving our schools," said Ms. Sobecki, who is endorsed by the Democratic Party.
Richard Brown, a staff auditor for Toledo City Council, was the other endorsed candidate but dropped out of the race after the child-endangerment charges.
In his place, the party decided to endorse Cheryl Catlin, a graphic and Web designer, who has been a member of the small but vocal Urban Coalition group.
The group - which two year's ago supported the candidacy of Mr. Myers and current members Darlene Fisher and Robert Torres - has for years called for changes to the system's new teacher hiring and evaluation program as well as its discipline policy. The group also has opposed nearly all tax levy requests.
Ms. Catlin has an eight-point plan that includes "providing a quality education for each community school to ensure equality" and eliminating "excessive punitive disciplinary measures."
Ted Jobe spent 36 years as a social studies and history teacher at South Toledo's Libbey High School.
He has been plugging his experience as an educator, knowledge of the system, and promises to "end all roadblocks that separate the home from the school."
Harold Mosley, a 27-year Toledo police veteran assigned to the department's special victims unit, has made student safety his main campaign platform, but like all the candidates, he is also promising for reform.
Finally, John Bulldog Rust, 91, is a write-in candidate.
Mr. Rust, an attorney and candidate for several public offices over the years, previously has said he legally changed his name to include Bulldog to match his personality.
Several attempts to reach Mr. Rust were unsuccessful.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: