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About 600 friends and supporters of Mayor Jack Ford wished him a happy 58th birthday at the Erie Street Market last night and contributed a collective $125,000 so that he might celebrate his 59th as mayor.
Mr. Ford, a Democrat, in a rousing address to the crowd in Civic Center Promenade, thanked the sponsors who contributed $1,000 to attend a 5:30 p.m. reception, and others who gave $100 and began filling the hall after 7 p.m.
He urged party-goers to campaign actively and directed them to tables at the back of the room to sign up and say I m going to work my block for Jack Ford.
If there are 600 people who line up with me, we re going to win the election, he said. If you don t, you ve wasted your money.
Mr. Ford emphasized that he overcame deficits inherited from the previous administration without having to lay off police officers and firefighters and expressed his belief that Toledo is positioned to rebound when the economy improves.
The celebration will be the single biggest fund-raiser for the mayor s re-election campaign, said James Ruvolo, a consultant to the Ford campaign. He estimated the mayor will need to raise $500,000.
Party-goers many wearing stick-on badges saying Toledo Backs Jack munched on miniature quiche, ribs, pasta salad, and cocktail wieners provided by Erie Street Market businesses.
Among the guests was Sandy Isenberg, former chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, who resigned from that post in February. She said Mr. Ford has worked diligently to bring jobs and businesses to the city.
Also seen at the mayor s event were Don Moline, a former city director of public utilities; Toledo school board members Larry Sykes and Anita Lopez; Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner, and Ben Konop, who ran unsuccessfully for the 4th District of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004.
The Toledo Federation of Teachers and United Auto Workers unions were well represented. Leo Martinez, 70, a Jeep retiree, said he planned to support Mr. Ford, but if [former Toledo Mayor] Carty [Finkbeiner] gets in the race, it will be a last-minute decision [between the two]. Mr. Finkbeiner, also a Democrat, is expected to declare by late June whether he will run for mayor. The deadline is July 15.
Bea Daniels, 58, a professional grief specialist, has no doubt: She believes in what Mr. Ford has done for the city. He s not easily intimidated, Ms. Daniels said. He s a strong man.
The mayoral campaign is being charged the regular rate, $550, for the hall, Erie Street Market Manager Pat Nowak said.
Also yesterday, Republican City Councilman Rob Ludeman, 1865 Glen Ellyn Dr., took out petitions for his mayoral run for mayor at the Lucas County Board of Elections office. Mr. Ludeman said Mr. Ford missed an opportunity by not trying to recruit O-I to move its operation from Perrysburg to Toledo. Instead, the company decided earlier this month to close its longtime Toledo headquarters and consolidate at the Levis Development Park it owns in Perrysburg.
It was a failure, knowing O-I owned property in Perrysburg, not trying to bring the whole operation here, he said.
Mr. Ford recalled that he had offered O-I an incentive package, described as $10 million, to stay in One SeaGate.
Noting Mr. Ludeman s profession as a Realtor, Mr. Ford said, He knows they ve owned the property [in Perrysburg]. I ve never heard him once say one thing on City Council nor has he ever sent one letter to my office with one suggestion. He s just being an opportunistic candidate.
Mr. Ludeman faces a possible contest from fellow Republican City Councilman George Sarantou. Mr. Sarantou, 4511 Sulgrave Drive, took out mayoral petition forms on May 9, theday he took out petitions to run for re-election to City Council. He said he hasn t made up his mind which office to seek.
Others who have taken out petitions for a possible mayoral bid are Opal Covey, 615 Cherry St.; Martin Okonski, 459 Spring Grove Ave.; Jo Pollitt, 1024 Michigan St.; Arthur Gonzalez, 725 Western Ave.; J.P. Rady, 2221 Scottwood Ave.; and Donald Gozdowski, 3142 Franklin Ave.
Blade Staff Writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.