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Published: 10/9/2009

Latino leaders endorse Wilkowski for city mayor

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

A group of local Latino leaders, including farm labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez, yesterday threw their support behind endorsed Democrat Keith Wilkowski for mayor.

"With Keith's experience, having the roles he's played in this community for some years now, we think he is the best option to provide leadership for the problems this city faces," said Mr. Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. "Those gathered around here are going to do our best to bring out the vote for Keith."

Joining Mr. Velasquez were a number of prominent local Latinos, including Toledo school board member Bob Vasquez who is seeking re-election and Adam Martinez who is running for Toledo city council. Both are endorsed Democrats, and most in the group are active in the Democratic Party.

Mr. Wilkowski's opponent is Mike Bell, a political independent.

The endorsement took place in Mr. Wilkowski's Warehouse District headquarters.

He said there was no specific promise given in return for the endorsement.

"I make a commitment that my administration is as diverse as the city of Toledo is, or more," Mr. Wilkowski said. "We will make sure that the benefits, when there are benefits in terms of contracts and opportunities, are there in equal force."

City law requires the city to attempt to award a certain percentage of contracts and subcontracts to minority and women-owned businesses.

Virginia Ortega, a community activist who joined the endorsement event yesterday, said she did not know how many of Toledo's approximately 213,000 registered voters claim Hispanic origin.

"We do, as Latinos, as Chicanos, as registered voters with a long history of voting, have enough votes to make a difference in this campaign," Ms. Ortega said.

Mr. Velasquez said FLOC is a member of the Toledo Labor Council and is networked throughout the community, not just among Latinos.

"We would hope that in this election that network would work for us and we would be able to have doors opened and access to the decisionmakers in this city that would improve the area that we're in," Mr. Velasquez said. He said FLOC would like to see the Broadway corridor improved and the Warehouse District extended farther south in the Old South End.

Mr. Wilkowski recalled that he was on the Toledo school board when the late Sofia Quintero was appointed.

Mr. Bell declined to comment on the endorsement.



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