State Rep. Jack Ford has been a social services activist for years.
If elected Toledo's next strong mayor over Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest on Nov. 6, Mr. Ford said yesterday that he plans to devote up to a third of his time on youth and family services.
“A town that has strong families has solved half its problems,” he told about 200 people, including Mr. Kest, who attended a Toledo Rotary Club luncheon at the Zenobia Shrine on Madison Avenue.
Mr. Ford dropped a prepared speech and spoke extemporaneously, outlining the key programs of a Ford administration and covering everything from education to development to diversity.
For the most part, however, it was a serious talk by a serious man on a day when it was learned that he had the highest vote total in a primary he thought he had finished as runner-up.
Mr. Ford said although Mayor Carty Finkbeiner made the right, hard choices in spending millions to keep Jeep and Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp. in Toledo, he believed citizens should have a say in such matters. As mayor, he said he would organize an area council of economic advisers to weigh in on development decisions involving taxpayer money.
As he has throughout his campaign, Mr. Ford spoke out against urban sprawl - a chief example, his thumbs down to a proposed mall in the Fallen Timbers area - and said he would forge a close, working relationship with the Toledo board of education. In the process, he took a poke at Mr. Kest, who supports the mall and has criticized the school board.
Mr. Ford also took aim at Mr. Kest's claim that his superior financial background, as Lucas County treasurer and a CPA, makes him the better candidate.
“I plan to hire someone with the same expertise - or more - to run the financial side of the city,” Mr. Ford said.
Although Mr. Ford has long been a supporter of Mr. Finkbeiner, he said he would have a different style than the current mayor, who has been criticized for micro-managing and frequently being at odds with his staff.
“There will be a new spirit and tone of cooperation coming out of the office,” he said. “I'll be Carty with an easier style.”
Mr. Ford, whose style is considerably more laid back than Mr. Finkbeiner, was quick to note that laid back does not mean lazy. He's been working four jobs in the last five years.
“I have the energy you're looking for,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Kest had an alternate view.
“He's basically a social worker, and I'm a certified public accountant,” he said.
Still, he gave his opponent high marks for delivery.
“I thought he did one of his better jobs today,” he said.