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Published: Friday, 10/26/2001

Kest critical of opponent on development in Toledo

Ray Kest renewed his criticism of his mayoral opponent's stance on development, saying it won't serve the economic interests of the area.

“We all want development in Toledo. And that is my number one priority. Creating jobs in Toledo - good paying jobs, jobs with benefits,” Mr. Kest told a rally last night at Teamsters Local 20 headquarters.

“But we are going to cooperate in developing throughout northwest Ohio,” Mr. Kest said, if elected. “We are going to try to get it to Toledo first.”

Toledo residents will have opportunities for new employment that communities outside the city generate, he said.

“They are going to have jobs outside the city of Toledo that are going to put food on the table,” Mr. Kest said. “We are going to help make that happen too.”

Mr. Kest, Lucas County treasurer, has characterized his challenger, Jack Ford, a state representative, as wanting to build a wall around Toledo when Mr. Ford gave his views recently on economic development.

Mr. Ford said two weeks ago that he believes jobs - and the people - need to stay in the city.

“Toledo cannot continue to export our jobs and people and remain as the economic hub of the region,” Mr. Ford said then.

Last night, Mr. Kest, carrying his grandson, Ty, walked among more than 500 people attending the rally, many of them members of the Teamsters and the building trades unions. Guests were served barbecued hot dogs and beverages. Donations were accepted for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York City.

Teamsters Local 20 has about 8,000 members, with an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 residents of Toledo, Bill Lichtenwald, president of the local, said.

“You don't hear this come out, but Jack Ford wanted to take health benefits away from [city employees belonging to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees] when he was on council,” Mr. Kest claimed.

Asked about that after his comments, Mr. Kest referred a reporter to officers of AFSCME at the gathering.

Mr. Ford was the only member of Toledo city council in 1990 to vote against approving a new collective bargaining agreement with city AFSCME employees, but other details about that couldn't be verified, union officials said.

Don Czerniak, president of AFSCME Local 7, said Mr. Ford's vote then suggests his support for labor today is weak.

“My feeling is that if he had that stance at that time and now preaches he is labor friendly, I don't see that he holds to that,” Mr. Czerniak said.

Reached later, Mr. Ford, denied his no vote was over health insurance.

“The issue there was whether the administration could clearly show that the proposed contract would be funded,” Mr. Ford said.

At that time, he said he commented that “before we try to guarantee things, we should try to have an understanding of the funding and [city officials] couldn't give me that.”



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