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Published: Sunday, 10/9/2005

Candidates target voters face to face

BY VANESSA WINANS
AND IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Mayor Jack Ford shows his allegiance while riding in the University of Toledo
homecoming parade with wife Cynthia and daughter Jacqueline yesterday. Mayor Jack Ford shows his allegiance while riding in the University of Toledo homecoming parade with wife Cynthia and daughter Jacqueline yesterday.
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It is not yet 10 a.m. yesterday, and the two men running for mayor of Toledo are already hard at work.

Carty Finkbeiner starts the day before 9 a.m. with a regular weekly meeting with his volunteers, then rushes to the Toledo Zoo for the Walk for Diabetes fund-raiser.

After that, he hits the rummage sale at the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center in West Toledo, all smiles, immediately shaking the hands of those who have come in search of treasures among the piles of items on the tables.

Carty Finkbeiner, left, Toledo s former two-term mayor who wants another shot at the job, introduces Jamie Warren, 7, to dogs Missy and Nemo, held by Gene Burchell and Cathy McVicker at the Eleanor M. Kahle Senior Center.
Carty Finkbeiner, left, Toledo s former two-term mayor who wants another shot at the job, introduces Jamie Warren, 7, to dogs Missy and Nemo, held by Gene Burchell and Cathy McVicker at the Eleanor M. Kahle Senior Center.
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"Hi there," he says, taking a woman's hand. "I'm Carty Finkbeiner, and I'm running for mayor of Toledo."

She is polite, but immune to the Finkbeiner charm. "I wish it was Ford that shook my hand," she later says, declining to give her name.

He chats up another woman there with her 7-year-old granddaughter. Ophelia Clement tells him about problems in her neighborhood.

He waves a campaign volunteer over to get her contact information. "God bless you," she says as they take leave of one another.

Like many other folks in the center, she is now wearing a "Carty Democrat" sticker.

But will she vote for him?

"I really don't know who I'm going to vote for," Mrs. Clement says. "I'll vote for the one I think is best for the job."

That's campaigning. You win some, you lose some, and you never know what'll tip the balance on Election Day.

Mayor Jack Ford starts his day at the Erie Street Market for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Greater Toledo's fund-raising walk. He poses for photographs and mingles, but leaves the public speaking to his wife, Cynthia Ford.

Then he's off to the central city's barber shops. Smiles greet him at Foster's Hair Concepts Unlimited on Bancroft Street, and barber Jamil Rashad shouts out over a dozen people to welcome Mr. Ford, then runs through a list of previous times they've met.

"I am one of your best supporters and your best friend," Mr. Rashad says. "You have shown growth in our city where there has been no growth in our country - and that's impressive."

"I wish I could vote twice for Jack Ford," he says.

After 15 minutes at Foster's, Mayor Ford decides to visit three more barber shops, including Liddell's Barbr Shop on Junction Avenue, and Clark's Beauty and Barber Shop on North Detroit Avenue. His picture hangs on the wall inside both locations.

At Clark's Beauty and Barber Shop, Mayor Ford uses a side entrance to greet owner Henry Clark with a friendly "Hey man." Using a walker because of a hip injury, Mr. Clark limps around his shop, introducing the mayor to patrons while many get hair cuts.

At a sale at Friendship Park in Point Place, Mr. Finkbeiner huddles with his workers before going in. He instructs some volunteers to straighten up yard signs and see about putting up more. He strides into the center, and plunges into yet another crowd.

"You got my vote, I'll tell you that," says Howard Paquette, shaking Mr. Finkbeiner's hand. The candidate's face lights up. Over the course of the day, he'll hear that several times, and it never fails to delight him.

After buying a hat for $5 and saying hello to City Council candidate Terry Shankland, who also is working the room, he is off to the Local 12 UAW hall for a 10-minute speech and to pick up an endorsement from Local 3, Service Employees International, before heading to South Toledo.

There, at the Genesis Dreamplex Hotel and Conference Center, the two candidates' paths converge at the African American Legacy Project of Northwest Ohio luncheon.

Mayor Ford sits at the dais while his challenger sits at a table on the main floor. The two speak briefly. Politics doesn't come up.

"I asked him if Ohio State was going to whip Penn State," Mr. Ford says, referring to the football game last night.

Mr. Finkbeiner, as he mingles and shakes hands, says hello to Toledo Board of Education President Larry Sykes. He extends his hand. But Mr. Sykes, a supporter of the mayor, denies Mr. Finkbeiner a handshake, chiefly because of his comments Sept. 30 on the school system and its failures. At a news conference, Mr. Finkbeiner said voters should replace the incumbent board members with new people.

Football games provide both men with more prime campaigning moments. Mr. Ford rides in the homecoming parade at the University of Toledo.

Actually, he nearly delays it. Senior Lindsey Hance waits in a yellow Jeep Wrangler for the mayor and his family to arrive for the parade motorcade.

"I hope we have enough room in here for him and his wife," she says, then giggles.

At the entrance gate at Libbey High School, Mr. Finkbeiner shakes more hands. He asks for names, compliments outfits, tells students to study hard.

He spends several minutes talking to a former football player he tried to recruit during his coaching days at UT, and thus misses two women walking by with "Cartybusters" T-shirts. They say nothing as they pass.

After the Libbey gig, the afternoon turns to door-to-door campaigning.

Mr. Finkbeiner's energy seems to increase as he walks, and occasionally trots, up and down streets near Harvest Lane, north of Monroe Street.

His team of 10 volunteers canvasses the streets ahead of him, finding the few people at home so he can talk to them and maybe place a sign in their yards.

He often breaks into a jog to catch up with his volunteers, and bounds up to porches where residents await a quick meeting.

"I love this," he confesses. "It's joyful."

Contact Vanessa Winans at:

vwinans@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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