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Published: Monday, 8/24/2009

Konop declares he's knocked on the most doors; rivals disagree

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Konop Konop
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

With just three weeks to go before the Toledo mayoral primary election, Democrat Ben Konop knocked on what he said was the 10,000th door of the campaign.

Several rivals disputed his claim to be in the lead in that category.

Mr. Konop said the decidedly low-tech but time-honored canvassing strategy of knocking on registered voters' front doors was a good way to reach voters.

"I've probably knocked on more doors personally than any of the other candidates," Mr. Konop said. The 10,000 addresses include homes and apartments visited by members of his campaign staff.

"Probably close to one-third of the electorate - we've been on their porch," Mr. Konop said.

Mr. Konop called the news media's attention to the occasion Sunday.

He is one of six candidates in the Sept. 15 primary. The top two vote-getters in that election will face off in the general election Nov. 3.

Other mayoral contenders disputed Mr. Konop's claim to having knocked on the most doors, and insisted that the Lucas County commissioner is on the losing side of a door-knock gap.

"We're way over 10,000," Republican Jim Moody said, speaking by cell phone during a break in his afternoon door-knocking in South Toledo.

Mr. Moody said he started knocking on voters' doors in January, when he trudged along in five layers of clothing and insulated boots. Friends and associates voiced concern for him out there in the icy cold.

"I almost got hit by a snowplow at 141st Street," Mr. Moody said. "When the temperature read 5 degrees or less, my campaign staff forbid me from going out."

The campaign for Democrat Keith Wilkowski has a tally of 14,200 door-knocks so far, according to Josh Thurston, his campaign manager.

And the candidate said he would have walked up driveways Sunday if he weren't walking his eldest daughter down the aisle. Erica Wilkowski, 29, married Trevor Jaspers, 35, during a Saturday ceremony at Parkway Plaza in Maumee.

Mr. Thurston was initially skeptical of Mr. Moody's feats.

"He was going door to door in January with 8 inches of snow and 20-degree weather, is that what he's saying?" Mr. Thurston said with a laugh. "If that is what he's saying, then good for him."

Independent candidates in the race, Mike Bell and D. Michael Collins, said that they prefer speaking before larger groups to walking door-to-door to greet one person at a time.

Both candidates spoke yesterday to a crowd at the Toledo Harley-Davidson dealership on Central Avenue in Sylvania Township that sponsored a 72-mile "Ride to Vote" caravan across the region that ended at the Docks restaurant complex in East Toledo.

"We had probably over 200 people at this event, so if [Mr. Konop] hit 200 doors today, we probably did the same thing," Mr. Bell said.

Mr. Collins said Mr. Konop must have been including campaign literature drops in which his volunteers and campaign staff didn't talk to anyone in the home.

Indeed, Mr. Konop said that of the 10,000 door knocks achieved by his campaign, no one was home about half the time.

The homeowners yesterday who found Mr. Konop knocking at their door were William and Sherry Baker of Birckhead Place.

After exchanging greetings, Mr. Baker and Mr. Konop discussed the negative economic effects of "brain-drain," when Toledo's brightest young people settle elsewhere with their college degrees. Two of the Bakers' children left Ohio after college graduation.

Mr. Konop, who had not previously met the Bakers, said afterward that there's more to door-knocking than shaking hands and dropping off campaign literature. It's a great opportunity to hear firsthand what is on people's minds.

"What you learn on the front porches you take and you implement as mayor," Mr, Konop said.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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