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Published: Sunday, 9/13/2009

Half-dozen candidates take aim at city's top job

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

As Carty Finkbeiner's mayoral term and long political career come to a close, the scramble is on to replace him in the city's top job.

The six people running for mayor of Toledo offer a variety of experiences and platforms and come from Republican, Democratic, and independent political affiliations. They will compete in Tuesday's nonpartisan primary, with the two highest vote-getters to face off on Nov. 3.

Keith Wilkowski, 53, of Old Orchard, is a lawyer and a Democrat. He served on the Toledo Board of Education and the Lucas County Board of Commissioners in the 1980s. During the 1990s, he was city law director and chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party. He graduated from Woodward High School, Ohio State University, and the University of Toledo law school. Mr. Wilkowski made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2005.

He has emphasized that as mayor he would go after "high-value manufacturing" and transportation as the basis of an economic plan. He's married with four children.

Mike Bell, 54, a Democrat running as an independent, was city fire chief for 17 years, stepping down in 2007 to be state fire marshal.

Mr. Bell is a graduate of Woodward and the University of Toledo. He became the city's youngest-ever fire chief in 1990 and one of Toledo's most recognizable figures, whether responding to disasters in the middle of the night or riding his motorcycle for charity.

He has emphasized his experience at running a large city department and working with suburban fire chiefs and mayors as head of a regional homeland security effort in 2001. Mr. Bell, who is not married, lives in Old Orchard.

Jim Moody, 48, the endorsed Republican, left his family home in Sylvania Township to live in West Toledo to qualify for the ballot and would have his family join him if he's elected.

He owns several real estate-related businesses, including a property management company. Mr. Moody's ideas have centered on quick results - relaxing regulations for home improvement, adding new intermodal business, and attracting a sport fishing tournament. He's proposed replacing the city income tax with a combination of sales, gasoline, and property taxes to spread the burden.

Mr. Moody grew up near Canton and graduated from Capital University in Columbus. He is married and has two daughters.

D. Michael Collins, 65, a retired city police officer, says he's the only true political independent, with no obligations to political bosses. He headed the police officer's union and taught criminal justice full time at the University of Toledo.

He was elected in 2007 to council's 2nd District seat and has become a crusader against spending by the mayor. Mr. Collins favors hiring more police and firefighters and opposes the mayor's ticketing of vehicles parked on grass and gravel drives.

He graduated from Libbey High School and the University of Toledo and lives off Glendale Avenue in South Toledo with his wife. He has three grown children.

Ben Konop, 33, a Democrat, is a lawyer and a Lucas County commissioner. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High School, Emory University in Atlanta, and the University of Michigan law school. Mr. Konop ran for Ohio's 4th Congressional District in 2004 but was unsuccessful.

As a commissioner, he attacked the leadership of the Lucas County Improvement Corp., forcing the resignation of the executive director and other changes. He cast the no vote when the commissioners voted 2-1 to raise the fee on real estate transfers from $3 to $4 for every $1,000 of real estate sold.

Mr. Konop has vowed to get a question on the ballot to require businesses to provide paid sick leave and to invest in people to make the city more competitive with 21st century employers. Mr. Konop lives downtown and is unmarried.

Opal Covey, 69, is an independent. The church minister says she has a divine mission to be elected mayor, but two previous campaigns were unsuccessful. She is divorced and lives on Broadway in South Toledo. She moved to Toledo from Lima in 1977.

Her trademark campaign idea is to build an amusement park in Promenade Park, promising an economic "pot of gold" from the increase in tourism.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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