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Published: Sunday, 10/25/2009

Bell's ads emphasize leadership experience


Toledo mayoral candidate Mike Bell's first television commercials hit the airwaves tomorrow with broadsides at his opponent over experience and political independence. The 30-second spot contrasts Mr. Bell's positions with those of endorsed Democrat Keith Wilkowski.

The ad touts Mr. Bell's experience as running a "complex" city agency - the fire department with 500 employees and a budget of $50 million -which he led for 17 years. Mr. Bell was also state fire marshal for two years, a position not mentioned in the ad.

Mr. Wilkowski "has never run anything - ever," a narrator then intones.

That statement is debatable.

Mr. Wilkowski, who has a one-man law firm, headed the Toledo Law Department from 1990 to 1994 and was Lucas County Democratic Party chairman from 1994-1997.

He also was president of the Toledo school board in the 1980s. And he was briefly Mr. Bell's boss as interim Toledo city manager for about a month before Mayor Carty Finkbeiner became Toledo's first strong mayor in 1993.

Mr. Wilkowski began his TV campaign last week with two sets of ads that stress his commitment to jobs and opposition to tax increases. His ads accuse Mr. Bell of being open to a tax increase.

Mr. Bell's ad says his plan to create jobs is endorsed by labor and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, while Mr. Wilkowski's plan is "written by political insiders."

Mr. Bell has been endorsed by Teamsters Local 20, the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, and Toledo Firefighters Local 92.

Mr. Wilkowski's labor support includes the United Auto Workers, the Toledo Area AFL-CIO Council, the Toledo Federation of Teachers, Laborers Local 500, and NWO Building and Construction Trades Council.

The political commercial touches on what is believed to be Mr. Bell's strongest issue, public safety: "Mike Bell knows this city and he'll improve neighborhoods, safety, and the schools," while Mr. Wilkowski has "no realistic plan to make this city safer."

The visuals are a portrait of a smiling Mr. Bell next to a portrait of a stressed-out looking Mr. Wilkowski, whose image shrinks as the ad progresses.

"I understand these are the most important issues for voters as they decide who will lead Toledo for the next four years. This commercial is a clear reflection of my record, my service, and my promise for Toledo," Mr. Bell said.

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