After four years weathering economic and budget woes, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford says he s ready for another term, this time
with the economy on his side.
But Mr. Ford faces a determined and experienced challenger
in former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who says Toledo is drifting and needs dynamic leadership in good times and bad.
Toledo voters will decide Tuesday who their next strong mayor
will be. Either way it s going to be a previous strong mayor.
Both Mr. Finkbeiner, 66, and Mr. Ford, 58, have been elected
mayor and as city councilmen in Toledo. Both are Democrats.
Both candidates promise a better economic future, more high-tech
jobs, and a safer city.
In many ways, that s where the comparison ends.
The bitter contest has featured harsh condemnation of Mr. Finkbeiner
from Mr. Ford, and Mr. Finkbeiner s cutting critiques in response.
Politically, Mr. Finkbeiner came in first in the Sept. 13 primary,
with 37 percent of the vote, while Mr. Ford came in second with 26 percent. The remainder was split among five other candidates.
Mr. Ford has outspent Mr. Finkbeiner 2-1. As of Oct. 19, Mr. Ford reported spending $525,090, compared with $244,100 for Mr.
Finkbeiner, according to reports on file with the Lucas County
Board of Elections.
Mr. Ford has emphasized that he was stuck with a budget deficits
since his first days in office, compounded by a jobless recovery,
just now showing signs of clearing.
I will report to you soon that we have a city on a sound footing ready to take advantage of the economic good times on the way, Mr. Ford said last week.
He boasts balanced budgets, a crackdown on sick-leave abuse, an upgrade of outdated computer technology, new auto parts supplier plants and an expansion of the Jeep assembly plant, establishment of the CareNet health care plan for uninsured citizens, and civility
in city government.
He can claim infrastructure progress the start of a $450-million sewer treatment upgrade, 100 miles of street resurfacing this
year, and cleanup of the former Toledo Edison Acme power plant
site for the Marina District.
But his administration has had setbacks the announced
departure of Owens-Illinois from downtown, a failed development
agreement for the Marina District, and an unpopular 2003 smoking
And friends and foes alike have griped about an uncommunicative
and leaden style that has left the public worrying about the city s future.
Mr. Ford has focused much of his campaign, however, on Mr.
Finkbeiner s at-times intemperate behavior as mayor and bad development deals that have cost the city money.
Mr. Finkbeiner has promised voters a return of the energetic style he brought to the city from 1994 to 2002. When he left office, a poll showed 78 percent of residents thought the city was heading
in the right direction.
Toledo must once again be a pro-growth, pro-jobs city, Mr.
The former mayor claimed credit for the vision to locate the
Marina District in East Toledo, Fifth Third Field stadium in
downtown Toledo, and The Docks restaurant complex at
Owens Corning developed a new headquarters in the near downtown, and DaimlerChrysler built a $1.2-billion factory, wrapping the city for a while in the glow of a rust-belt town on the rise.
Mr. Ford hasn t been able to close a major deal or lay a single
brick foundation, Mr. Finkbeiner said.
But Mr. Finkbeiner was known at times for tirades at hapless
employees and citizens, and was even accused of striking people,
though it wasn t proven. The former mayor has said he ll keep his passion, but try to be more patient.
Mr. Finkbeiner has issued a 34-point plan. His top three commitments are creation of a research and technology corridor,
development of the Marina District project, and seeking private-
sector developers to build a new arena.
Mr. Ford s campaign says his vision was laid out almost four
years ago when he produced The Ford Plan, a book-sized volume of 100 policy initiatives, but hasn t trotted the book out in this campaign. His staff released a summary of the mayor s second-term plans on Friday.
Southwyck Shopping Center has emerged as the campaign s
major point of contention. Mr. Ford claims his efforts have paid
off with a tentative $150 million redevelopment plan last week.
Public safety has also been contentious. Mr. Finkbeiner
called for a 700-offi cer police force, up from the present 678
offi cers. The pledge won him the endorsement of city police and
Mr. Ford promises 705 officers, and says he lost endorsements
as payback for the tough stands he took to rein in city spending
during four tight budget years.