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Friday, July 25, 2014
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Published: Friday, 5/23/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

COMMENTARY

Ford’s ideas, friends will make it a race

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

Some people told me he would not do it, in the end.

But Jack Ford filed as an independent to run for the state Senate a few days ago.

He filed almost three times the number of signatures he needed to get on the ballot — 2,300.

The signatures were gathered in a short period of time by people who were not political insiders. (Their leader was Weldon Douthet, who is 80. He says: “If you want a job done ask an old person.”)

Mr. Ford and his team used the petition drive to test the waters for this run.

Ford Ford
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Why was Mr. Ford not supposed to do it? Well, he almost died a couple years ago and is in dialysis for the rest of his life. Second, he will be running against Edna Brown, a fellow African-American and a fellow Democrat. What’s up with that?

At an impromptu news conference when he filed, Mr. Ford answered, at least to my mind. He ticked off six issues he’d like to work on at the Capitol:

● Addiction, particularly the heroin epidemic.

● Preservation and care of Lake Erie.

● A Marshall plan to create jobs for urban youth.

● Containing the cost of higher education.

● Foster care, which he thinks needs better watchdogging.

● Aid to cities.

He says he is dumbfounded that a plan to eliminate Joint Economic Districts and hence withdraw thousands of dollars in state support for Lucas County could sail through the legislature.

Mr. Ford was at his best in this session — better, in fact, than the current candidates for governor. For he gave a little mini-seminar on each issue.

When the policy guy talks policy, it is usually a tour de force. Politics and policy are his healers. Engagement does for him what golf and travel do for others.

Mr. Ford held another news conference Monday, mostly dealing with the heroin epidemic. Same deal — thoughtful and authoritative. He is one part professor and two parts pol. And he has 30 years under his belt at all levels of public service. He knows how to make the moves.

I spoke with Ms. Brown about all this. She is not happy. She says Mr. Ford was her mentor. She doesn’t get Jack Ford taking her on. She is not about to go quietly.

But the case people make for Ms. Brown is the following: She would be term-limited out in four years. Jack Ford is out of line. He should have waited. Edna Brown is entitled.

Not in America. Politics is smash-mouth competition. Meaner than football. Ask Mr. Ford, who was taken out by friend and fellow Dem Carty Finkbeiner.

The case for Mr. Ford is that he has the brain power and knowledge of the system to be an effective representative.

He also has a wide circle of friends. That translates into an ability to compete. And competition, though inconvenient for politicians, is usually good for voters.

Keith Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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