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Published: Monday, 8/10/2009

Entrepreneur s run for Toledo mayor born of frustration with council

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Republican Jim Moody is moving
aggressively to elevate his name recognition in Toledo. Republican Jim Moody is moving aggressively to elevate his name recognition in Toledo.
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Jim Moody is probably the least-known of Toledo s six candidates for mayor, a businessman who savored his family time and made himself into a millionaire selling and managing real estate in Toledo.

Although he flirted with politics as a college student including being present when then-Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in 1980 he has stayed largely out of the public eye.

Mr. Moody did not even belong to the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce or the Downtown Toledo Rotary Club, organizations that typically attract public-spirited business executives.

I ve never been a country-clubber. I could care less about being in the society pages. I think I m known by folks in Toledo, Mr. Moody said. I never contemplated being a professional politician. I liked how I was living.

That was then.

About a year ago, frustrated with a series of legislative moves in Toledo City Council he thought were failing to position the city to attract outside investment, Mr. Moody moved his legal residence from a 2,882-square-foot, $248,000 house in Sylvania Township to the front unit of an aluminum-clad twinplex on Parkview Avenue in West Toledo.

And he s kicked off a campaign that seeks to equal that of his better-known Democratic and independent rivals.

Mr. Moody, 48, has moved aggressively to elevate his name recognition. He said he has knocked on 10,000 doors and is the only candidate with a major party endorsement.

His picture adorns a minivan that is often seen around Toledo, and he has peppered Toledo with his political signs.

After a mayoral roundtable forum broadcast online on WTOL-TV, Channel 11 in June, he won the online poll with 44 percent of those calling in, showing he was a political force to be reckoned with.

Mr. Moody is competing with Democrats Ben Konop and Keith Wilkowski and independents Mike Bell and D. Michael Collins, as well as independent Opal Covey in the Sept. 15 primary. The top two finishers will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

The road to Toledo

Mr. Moody was born near Canton, the son of a mechanical engineer for the Timken Roller Bearing Co. and a homemaker.

Between his father s sense of hard work and patriotism and his mother s gentle guidance, Jim learned at an early age a sense of responsibility, moral conduct and duty to country, Mr. Moody said of himself in a prepared bio.

He is a 1983 graduate of Capital University in Columbus. While there, he wrote outdoors articles for a hometown newspaper. He said he helped found the college Young Republicans Club and wrote speeches for Clarence Bud Brown, a former Ohio congressman and an unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor in 1982.

He said he came to Toledo about 24 years ago to work for a time as general manager of Telex Communications, owner of the Toledo Business Journal, staying in the Hillcrest Hotel in downtown Toledo and in a house on Bridlington Drive near Talmadge Road.

I moved back to Columbus to start another company and then decided that I wanted to make Toledo my home. I moved back here and lived in Tamaron [apartments] on Alexis Road, he said. He believes he lived in Toledo a total of five to seven years.

He worked as the national marketing director for Myway Magazine Inc., spending months at a time on the road setting up branch offices in Chicago, New York, and Florida.

He quit My Way in 1989 and founded Flex Realty in 1990. Over the next few years, he bought into HomeFinder Magazine, bought R.G. Shriner Realty, expanded the Shriner Real Estate School, and formed a property management company that now has about 200 properties.

He teaches Realtor certification classes, including the subjects of ethics, fair housing, and contracts.

He said he could be described as a millionaire but added, I used to be worth a whole lot more before the real estate market crashed.

Much of Mr. Moody s business in the last few years has involved giving seminars in California, where he met with would-be real estate investors to sell them property in Toledo.

He makes commissions selling Toledo properties to out-of-town investors and then collects fees by managing many of those properties on behalf of his investors.

I would venture to say that more often than not they are some of the better ones in the neighborhood, he said.

Moving into the city

Mr. Moody insists he spends the majority of his time at 2468 Parkview in Toledo, even though the rest of the family continues to call Sylvania Township home. His family would move to Toledo if he is elected, he said. He and his wife, Cheryl, have two daughters, Chantel, 20, and Danielle, 14.

I ve never made any bones about it, that I moved here last July for the purpose of running for mayor, Mr. Moody said.

The apartment is sparsely decorated with the necessary furniture, a television, some Moody family pictures, a stack of novels on the floor in the bedroom, and some food in the refrigerator.

He claims to have more familiarity with the city than some of his opponents because of his work selling and maintaining property.

Last year, as a result of my management business, I drove almost 9,000 miles in our city limits, he said.

He s wistful about his avocation as a competitive bass fisherman, a pastime that he has pursued around the country for the last four years, but has had to give up to run for mayor.

I liked my life an awful lot before I decided to run, Mr. Moody said.

Mr. Moody began to emerge from his business interests in reaction to efforts by the city of Toledo to require presale inspections of homes, and in response to crime.

In October, 2008, Mr. Moody offered a reward of $100 to anyone who would file a police report on someone vandalizing a house, as part of an effort to reduce the problem of house-stripping.

Wanted: A jump-start

As a mayoral candidate, he has unleashed proposals, many of them aimed at getting real estate moving, which would fuel work for construction workers, retailers, and manufacturers.

I believe we can jump-start Toledo s economy by jump-starting real estate, he said. While America needs to be a group of savers, we also need to be a group of spenders.

He has advocated trying to sell a share in Toledo Express Airport. He wants the city to get out of the police tow-lot business.

He wants to promote Toledo as a destination for boaters and build an amphitheater in the Marina District to attract national acts an idea that was deemed unfeasible by a market study done by the Finkbeiner administration.

The impetus for me to run for mayor of Toledo was just born out of total frustration, he said.

He objected when the city enacted legislation in 2008 to require vacant houses to be listed on a public registry, with the owners paying annual fees unless they post for-sale or for-rent signs in front of the building.

He objected to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s alleged refusal to proceed with an intermodal project at the Toledo Express Airport a project Mr. Finkbeiner insisted existed only in the mind of the property developer, Brian McMahon.

He contends that City Council has an anti-business stance.

Mr. Moody slips into his salesman and business entrepreneur mode when he says one of Toledo s most important needs is to attract new people and employers to the city.

You can t continue to recycle your own money. You have to bring in outside money, in my opinion, from more than 50 miles away, he said.

He sees his business experience as a good fit for the position he s seeking knowing how to work within a budget, how to increase market share and that is the mayor s job.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.comor 419-724-6058.



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