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Published: Tuesday, 9/10/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

PRIMARY ELECTION

Voters to pick 2 finalists for Toledo mayor

Council, Maumee issue also on the ballot today

BY TOM TROY AND IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Drive extra carefully today.

Be on the alert for candidates and their volunteers waving signs.

Today is primary election day in Toledo and Maumee, and the polls will be open for voting from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Candidates and their signs have already been a big part of the city landscape for most of the last month, with the Toledo mayoral election that will decide whether incumbent Mayor Mike Bell gets to run for a second term -- and, if so, who will join him on the ballot in November.

In Toledo, eight people are vying for two spots on the ballot. They are Mr. Bell, Councilman D. Michael Collins, and city neighborhood specialist Alan Cox, all independents; evangelist Opal Covey, an unendorsed Republican; retired city finance worker Michael Konwinski, a Libertarian, and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and Councilman Joe McNamara, both Democrats. Independent Don Gozdowski is certified as a write-in candidate.

The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will move ahead to the Nov. 5 general election.

Voters in Toledo also will pick the top 12 candidates to face off on the general election ballot for six at-large seats on council. Seventeen people were certified to the nonpartisan ballot.

They are: incumbents Rob Ludeman, a Republican; Steven Steel, Shaun Enright, and Adam Martinez, all Democrats; independent challengers Bill Delaney, Theresa Gabriel, and Sandy Spang; Democratic challengers Jack Ford, Larry Sykes, and Joshua Fowler; and Republican challengers Alfonso Narvaez, Ernest McCarthy, Joe Celusta, James Nowak, James Martin, and Ron Johns, and Green candidate Sean Nestor.

Voters in Maumee today will decide if wine, mixed beverages, and liquor will be permitted for sale between 11 a.m. and midnight on Sundays inside and on the patio at Santa Ana, L.L.C., doing business as La Fiesta, 1406 Reynolds Rd.

Maumee residents also will select council candidates among Republican Brent Buehrer, Democrat Mike Coyle, Republican Timothy L. Pauken, and Republican Julie Rubini, who are the incumbents. They are being challenged by Democrat John M. Schafer, Democrat Hal R. Simon, Democrat Tom Wagener, Jr., Democrat Maria Zapiecki, and Libertarian Danny Cobb. The eight with the highest votes will proceed to Nov. 5.

Meghan Gallagher, director of elections for Lucas County, said even though turnout is predicted to be low, based on fewer absentee ballots from 2009, election workers at 114 locations still have to go through their same procedures.

Those procedures include shutting down the machines at 7:30 p.m., reconciling the ballots and signature books, transporting the data cards and election materials to four substations, and then transporting results to the county's early vote center at 1500 N. Superior St.

"It could take one hour, two hours. We're interested in speed but on Election Day, accuracy is extremely important," Ms. Gallagher said.

Mayor Bell didn't deviate much from his typical Monday schedule even with the election the next day.

He attended his regular executive staff and directors' meetings. That was followed by a news conference with all three Democratic Lucas County commissioners regarding a new sustainability commission office at One Government Center.

The mayor later attended a dedication ceremony for the Thomas and Elizabeth Brady Engineering Innovation Center at the University of Toledo.

He plans to meet with campaign volunteers at dawn today, followed by casting his vote at 8 a.m. at Pelham Manor in West Toledo.

Ms. Lopez started the day by calling voters midmorning from Teamsters Local 20 hall in South Toledo -- a location that's served as a secondary campaign headquarters for her. She also knocked on doors in East Toledo to see voters face-to-face.

“[Election Day] she will be shaking hands with voters as they are going to different polling locations, knocking on doors, and making phone calls,” said Lopez campaign spokesman Diane May.

Mr. McNamara had lunch with former mayor Ford at Michael's Bar & Grill downtown and then the two stopped at the J. Frank Troy Senior Center in central Toledo.

“With Jack Ford's endorsement, there is a lot of momentum, and a lot of people are talking about Joe,” said McNamara Campaign spokesman Andrew Grunwald.

Mr. McNamara spent nearly three hours calling voters from his campaign office at the Spitzer Building before going to knock on doors in West Toledo.

Mr. Collins spent the bulk of his time Monday off the campaign trail.

“I dealt with constituent issues in the morning until a 2 p.m. economic development committee hearing,” Mr. Collins said.

He spent time calling voters from his South Toledo campaign headquarters before doing a “wave-by” on Sylvania Avenue in front of the closed northwest district police station. His election day will start at 4 a.m.

“We have volunteers to place yard signs at polling places and then I will vote at my precinct,” Mr. Collins said.

Longtime political pollster and consultant Stanford Odesky said the candidates seem to be running mostly on name recognition, and said the smart ones probably focused their mailings, signs, and door-to-door literature drops on precincts with a record of high turnouts in the past.

In 2009, about 18 percent of the city's registered voters turned out, but the results varied by precinct. As few as 3 percent voted in a 15th Ward precinct off Airport Highway near Byrne Road, and a high of 42 percent in the a neighborhood near the intersection of Talmadge Road and Central Avenue in the 22nd Ward.

“You’'ve got to go where the vote came out in the past,” Mr. Odesky said. He said the council candidates haven't generated enough activity to rouse the voters' interest.

“I just don’t think enough people are tuned into what is going on to make it sufficiently exciting,” Mr. Odesky said.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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