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Published: Monday, 9/14/2009

Toledo's Mayoral Contest: Candidates race toward primary

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo's mayoral candidates mingled among church-goers, car buffs, and festival patrons in their final weekend of campaigning to motivate supporters to turn out for them at Tuesday's primary.

Mike Bell and D. Michael Collins, both political independents and the two candidates with experience on Toledo's safety forces, used part of their campaign time to push for public support of Issue 1.

"Just saying no for the sake of saying no doesn't resolve the issue," said Mr. Collins, who joined Mr. Bell in front of Government Center downtown Sunday to urge passage of Issue 1.

Mr. Bell wore a New York Fire Department hat that he got shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to remind voters of the necessity of a good public safety force.

"Issue 1 talks about the ability to transfer funds to the safety forces," Mr. Bell said.

The ballot question would allow council and the mayor to use $3.9 million that is currently designated for capital improvements to be spent on general operations, which, according to Mr. Collins, is necessary to avoid another round of police layoffs.

Most candidates visited one or more churches in the morning, the antique car show at the United Auto Workers Local 14 and General Motors Powertrain park on Jackman Road, St. Clement's Church Festival on Tremainsville Road, and the Greek-American Festival near downtown. Several also visited the Redeemer Lutheran Church festival at the former Nathan Hale School on Upton Avenue.

Republican Jim Moody shook hands with people at the Powertrain event, wearing a shirt with his name printed on it and handing out glossy cards with photos of him campaigning along with his family. He wasn't shy about asking people for their support.

He shook hands with Brian Korn, 39, an exhibitor who told Mr. Moody he would support him. Mr. Moody urged him to call two friends and ask them to vote for him as well.

"In an election that is this tight, I think every vote is going to count," Mr. Moody said, claiming he planned to hit 14 locations in 10 hours of campaigning.

Ben Konop, a Democrat, spoke at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church at Bancroft and Monroe streets, then walked door-to-door on Jay Street in East Toledo, meeting a supporter in the very first house. "You've had my vote from day one," said Brian Ribbey, 29, at 39 Jay St. "We just need change," Mr. Ribbey said later. "In my opinion, he's the best candidate out there. We need a young mayor."

Mr. Konop, who said he's been knocking on doors with his volunteers for four months, said going door-to-door at this point in the campaign is good for "making sure people who are supporting you are going to get out to the polls."

Democrat Keith Wilkowski attended a service at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church on Hoag Street, looked for Toledo voters at the UAW car show, stopped off at his Warehouse District headquarters where volunteers were calling likely supporters, and then visited St. Clement's in West Toledo. He planned to spend part of the evening knocking on doors in Ward 12 - the Old Orchard area.

"Door-to-door is the best because you're almost assured of talking to a voter, people who are vested in this community, and have opinions," Mr. Wilkowski said.

Festival-goer and Jeep retiree Larry Hulisz, 55, talked with Mr. Wilkowski and said Toledo needs a change.

"I have mixed emotions. I think Mr. Wilkowski's got a very good chance," Mr. Hulisz said after spending several minutes chatting with the candidate. "I think he's for the working people."

Mr. Bell not only campaigned among the car buffs at the UAW park but was an exhibitor at the car show. He dropped off his 1989 Corvette in the morning before heading to church and then to his downtown event with Mr. Collins.

Later in the day, he planned to pay a visit to the Lutheran Redeemer outdoor party.

Jo Pollitt, who drove her motorized wheelchair from her residence in North Toledo, declared Mr. Bell her candidate and said she has a good record for making predictions, before peppering him and Mr. Collins with pointed questions about how they would rejuvenate downtown. "Mike is the best. I know him from way back," said Ms. Pollitt, 53.

At the small Redeemer Lutheran event, Mr. Moody and Mr. Collins mingled with members of the church. Mr. Collins said such events are interesting because he hears what's important in the community.

Mr. Collins said he was told the church is concerned about the school property since Nathan Hale shut down.

At St. Clement's, accompanied by his wife, Sandra Drabik, he went from table to table to introduce himself. Church member Ray LaVor, 71, said the main thing is to get a new mayor - "somebody who wants industry in this town, who will get people off welfare," Mr. LaVor said.

A former Marine, Mr. LaVoy said he plans to vote but seemed to be considering his options even after speaking with Mr. Collins, also a former Marine. "I don't know too much about him, but he sounds pretty good," he said.

The two top vote-getters tomorrow will face off on Nov. 3. The primary is nonpartisan and people are not required to declare a political party to vote.

Polling places open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Also, people can vote today at the Early Voting Center, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 653 Miami St. in East Toledo.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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