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Published: Monday, 8/24/2009

Toledo mayoral candidates debate in first televised appearance

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The five major contenders to become the next mayor of Toledo faced off Monday night in the first live televised debate, during which they all agreed that jobs and public safety would be top priorities in their administrations.

The debate was light on barbs and razor-tongued rhetoric but flush with promises about pushing Toledo to recover and fix its budgetary problems. Participating in the debate were Democrats Keith Wilkowski and Ben Konop, independents Mike Bell and D. Michael Collins, and Republican Jim Moody.

The five men will appear on the Sept. 15 primary ballot, along with independent candidate Opal Covey.

The top two vote-getters will compete in the Nov. 3 general election.

The five candidates were denied the traditional opening and closing statements, but they were permitted to list their top-three priorities for day one.

All five men said they would oppose increasing Toledo s 0.75 percent income tax to 1 percent and said they were against making it permanent.

Mr. Bell however left the possibility for a future increase open when he answered the question with "not at this time."

The other four were dead against the suggestion.

"Now is exactly the wrong time to raise taxes," Mr. Konop said in response to the question.

Mr. Wilkowski said that would put a burden on people during a time they could not bare higher taxes.

Mr. Moody said he would look for ways to reduce the city s income tax.

The debate took place in the auditorium of the Fifth Third Center at One SeaGate downtown. It was moderated by Channel 11, WTOL-TV anchor Jerry Anderson, with anchor Chrys Peterson, who moderated questions from a voter panel. Blade politics writer Tom Troy also posed questions.

All five candidates said they would invest in downtown by supporting the Downtown Improvement District, and all five said they would invest in CareNet, the health-care plan for low-income Lucas County residents.

Ms. Covey, who ran in two previous elections and polled less than 1 percent of the vote, is on the ballot but was not invited to the forum.

Ms. Covey stood outside the event and distributed campaign flyers.



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