Toledo's mayoral candidates held dueling endorsement events yesterday with a group of city safety officers lining up for former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and unionized health-care workers backing Mayor Jack Ford.
The head of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association cited Mr. Ford's attempt last year to lay off 27 police officers as the main reason for en-dorsing his opponent.
"He is the only mayor that ever sent pink slips to cops," said Gregg Harris, TPPA president.
Alluding to the union's past disagreements with Mr. Finkbeiner, Mr. Harris said, "We don't always agree on everything, but there's no way this guy is going to mail pink slips to police officers and firefighters."
James Martin, president of Toledo Firefighters Local 92, also said the layoff effort was critical to his union's endorsement of Mr. Finkbeiner. He said firefighters believe the layoff proposal "put the safety of the citizens in jeopardy."
In December, with a multimillion-dollar deficit facing the city, Mr. Ford proposed laying off 27 police officers, 23 firefighters, and 20 other city employees to save about $3.3 million in 2005.
The fire and police layoffs were averted when the administration and Toledo City Council agreed on an alternative package of cuts and revenue increases.
When he was mayor for eight years, Mr. Finkbeiner and city union leaders often were at loggerheads. Ironically, Mr. Ford negotiated labor waivers of the city's residency requirement with police and fire unions, something that had been denied by Mr. Finkbeiner as mayor.
Mr. Ford accepted the endorsement yesterday of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which said he went to bat for its members this year in negotiations with eight nursing home operators.
"We feel very strongly we are the face of Toledo," said Dave Ragan, president of Local 1199. He said 1,000 members are involved in Toledo-area bargaining.
Mr. Ragan credited Mr. Ford with addressing the high cost of health care, which he said is a top concern for his members.
He denied the SEIU's unionization drives at area hospitals and nursing homes would contribute to those rising costs.
"If you go to a state that is nonunion you will find health care costs escalating at exactly the same rate," Mr. Ragan said.
A different SEIU unit, Local 3, with about 700 area members, has endorsed Mr. Finkbeiner.