Local Democrats gathered yesterday to share some corned beef, cabbage, beer, and camaraderie at its St. Patrick's Day Jiggs Dinner, the traditional kickoff event to the year's political season.
The fund-raiser at the St. Clement's Catholic Church hall on Tremainsville Road attracted candidates and a wide variety of party faithful.
Party Chairwoman Paula Ross said she believes the party will easily meet last year's attendance total of between 1,000 and 1,100 people - this despite the fact the party is divided right now over this year's race for Toledo mayor.
After Ms. Ross said last month she could not support Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest's mayoral campaign, some building trades unions that support Mr. Kest said they would refuse to buy large blocks of tickets to yesterday's dinner.
“But there were many others who volunteered that they were willing to do a little extra so that it wouldn't hurt” the party's fund-raising effort, Ms. Ross said.
Ms. Ross and others - including Toledo council President Peter Ujvagi - said the dinner is not the place to fight.
“This is an opportunity for Democrats to get together and hug each other and talk,” he said. “It's not an expensive event, so you get a lot of different people from different parts of the party. Some people I haven't seen in years.”
Mr. Ujvagi, who last month decided against a run against Mr. Kest for mayor, said he is close to making a decision on whether to run for his last at-large term on council. Under the Toledo charter, councilmen get three, four-year terms before they are forced from office.
Councilman Bob McCloskey from Toledo's District 3, which includes East Toledo and part of South Toledo, said yesterday at the dinner he will seek another term. Like Mr. Ujvagi and other candidates, he circulated the church meeting hall chatting with old friends and supporters.
Dennis Boyle, nephew of Democratic icon Bill Boyle, used the event to fill up on the Irish offerings and to snag a lunch to go for his wife, Becky, who he said could not make it through the day without a meal from the event. “She's a corned beef person,” he said.
Mr. Boyle lost a race for Sylvania Township trustee four years ago and is running again this year.
State Sen. Linda Furney, who is term-limited from office and is running for clerk of Toledo Municipal Court this year, and state Rep. Jeanine Perry also were making the rounds at the dinner.