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Published: Sunday, 5/24/2009

4 mayor hopefuls to meet in forum

BLADE STAFF

An online and digitally televised Virtual Mayoral Roundtable set for Wednesday will give Toledo voters a chance to see mayoral candidates and ask questions about the city's economic crisis and other issues.

WTOL-TV, Channel 11 and The Blade are hosting the online political forum from 8 to 9 p.m. on WTOL.com and News 11 Now with Toledo mayoral candidates Mike Bell, Ben Konop, Jim Moody, and Keith Wilkowski in the station's studios.

News Anchor Brad Harvey will put questions to the candidates from WTOL's online audience.

WTOL is inviting viewers to ask their question in a video. Here's how: If you have a Web cam, upload the video to WTOL's pics.wtol.com Web site. You also can e-mail questions to news@wtol.com or ask them during WTOL's LIVE Web chat.

"We'll try to cover as many questions as possible," said Andi Roman, WTOL assistant news director.

The live special will be streamed on WTOL.com and News 11 Now, which can be seen on Digital Channel 11.2 or Buckeye Cable Channel 111.

Blade politics writer Tom Troy will be live and on camera in The Blade's newsroom to ask questions e-mailed from Blade readers. The address for questions via The Blade is townhall@theblade.com.

Ms. Roman said virtual townhall meetings and roundtables have drawn hundreds, up to a couple thousand, viewers and participants.

About 400 people participated in the live Web chat for the "Families Coping" town-hall meeting May 11, she said.

The candidates say it will be the first time they've appeared together in a political forum, and they're ready.

"I've been begging for someone to do it since I got in," said Mr. Moody, a Republican and real estate investor. "It's never too early to talk about the specifics that a candidate wants to do. There may be some things come out of this that the city could implement immediately."

Mr. Konop, a Democrat and Lucas County commissioner, said he's eager for the opportunity to talk directly to voters.

"I welcome any opportunity to compare and contrast my vision for Toledo with my opponents'," Mr. Konop said. "I think I have the best ideas and the best track record to bring about change. I wish we could have a debate every week."

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to talk to Toledoans in the online forum and share my plans for bringing Jobs to Toledo," said Mr. Wilkowski, a Democrat and Toledo lawyer.

Mr. Bell, an independent and the city's former fire chief, expressed similar sentiment.

"I am excited to get this portion of the campaign season started and excited for good discussion on how we will turn this city and region around," Mr. Bell said.



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