Toledo City Council candidate Adam Martinez, a Democratic-endorsed incumbent, turned his back on the union-preferred and Ohio Democratic Party-favored mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins Thursday and instead endorsed Mike Bell.
“I cannot in good conscience support a candidate who does not recognize the racial concerns that many in our community have,” Mr. Martinez said while standing shoulder to shoulder with the mayor downtown.
“Councilman Collins vehemently denies that racial profiling and inequality exists,” he said. “While there may not be many reported cases of racial profiling within our police department, it is still a very real concern to many in our community that should not be shamelessly dismissed.”
The state Democratic party swiftly punished Mr. Martinez.
“It reflects that Adam has made a couple of bad decisions as a councilman and this will be the third, probably the final bad decision,” said state party chairman Chris Redfern.
“Today, we have removed him from the state’s party voter file, and we have suspended all use he has with the bulk mail permit and any other resources the state party supplies,” Mr. Redfern said. “As chairman of the party, I don’t consider him to be an endorsed candidate any longer. You cannot run as Democrat and reap the benefits without standing up for our party’s values.”
Mr. Martinez finished seventh out of the top 12 in the September primary, setting up an uphill climb to displace one of the top six in the general election next month.
Mr. Martinez said Mayor Bell — who is a political independent like Mr. Collins — has done “a great job of diversifying his administration.”
He also blasted Mr. Collins for his stance regarding allocation of federal money for homeless shelters, something charged to the city.
“I cannot support a candidate that uses homelessness as a political issue,” Mr. Martinez said. “In the last round of [Community Development Block Grant] funding, Councilman Collins defunded rapid rehousing initiatives in efforts to pay for salaries and duplicate services for shelters.”
Mr. Collins championed getting more money for the federally funded shelters, something he said the Bell administration was trying to stop.
“As a matter of fact, the CDBG funding Councilman Martinez is referring to was unilaterally stripped by the mayor and the budget was submitted without council approval,” Mr. Collins said. “I was indeed looking to put more money into the shelters.”
Mayor Bell and Mr. Collins have clashed repeatedly on the question of whether Toledo police officers engage in racial profiling. Mr. Collins, who won the endorsement of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, said at a forum sponsored by the Toledo chapter of the NAACP earlier in the campaign — before the September primary — that based on a report from the city police department he did not believe racial profiling existed. He has turned the question back at Mr. Bell, asking several times since then if the report was a lie.
During a forum last month, the mayor said: “We do have people that racial profile. ... They’re human, they do things.”
Mr. Collins Thursday shot back at his fellow councilman.
“I think Councilman Martinez is taking liberties as it relates to character assassination that is profoundly unprofessional,” Mr. Collins said. “When Councilman Martinez can duplicate my years of service as a police officer, in the military, and on city council, perhaps at that moment in time he can make an assessment of my character.”
After Mr. Martinez endorsed the mayor, Mr. Bell announced his support for Mr. Martinez.