Toledo Mayor Mike Bell is greeted by Wan Sung Leung during the annual Caregiver Expo at Parkway Plaza in Maumee, one of several events on his calendar Saturday.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Mayor Mike Bell and challenger D. Michael Collins have diverged on just about everything during their mayoral campaign, but on Saturday — in the homestretch to Election Day — they shared one common initiative. Both men finished the night at the University of Toledo home football game.
Earlier in the day, Toledo’s two mayoral candidates spent their time rubbing elbows with constituents at various events across the city.
The pair, both independents, clawed their way out of the Sept. 10 primary election to face each other Tuesday.
Mr. Collins, a district councilman from South Toledo and the preferred candidate for much of organized labor, rallied about two dozen union members at the Toledo Police Patrolman Association’s building near downtown during the morning, while at roughly the same time, Mayor Bell mixed with attendees at the Caregiver Expo at Parkway Plaza in Maumee.
“We have made this march together, and we will continue that pursuit,” Mr. Collins told union members. “We will march to victory on Tuesday because of you.”
At the TPPA rally, union leaders framed Tuesday’s mayoral election as the first fight against a Republican push for right-to-work legislation in Ohio, which would undermine union strength in workplaces. Mr. Bell has expressed neutrality on the matter.
Mr. Collins is a former TPPA president who led the union for a decade beginning in the late 1980s. During that time, he was on release from his police job with the city and was paid by the city.
Ray Wood, president of United Auto Workers Local 14 who was recently selected president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said labor supports those who support them.
“Let’s support Michael Collins. He supports us,” Mr. Wood said.
Mr. Collins said he had planned to do some door-to-door campaigning Saturday as well, but was stymied by the rain. He planned to revisit door-to-door visits today.
Mayor Bell said the expo, an event co-sponsored by the Area Office on Aging and The Blade, is one of many types of events he attends as mayor and said it’s no different than political campaigning.
“Anytime you walk, you’re campaigning. I don’t know how you can separate the two,” he said as he took turns shaking hands and having his picture taken with people at the Expo.
Mr. Bell said he sees no point in political rallies with the election only three days away. However, he said he has volunteers who are making telephone calls and knocking on doors with campaign literature.
“Most people have probably figured out what they’re going to do,” Mr. Bell said.
The mayor’s campaign manager, Mary Jo Potter Madewell, said that almost every segment of the city has been reached by phone or by volunteers walking door-to-door.
“We’re hoping Tuesday has good weather so we have a better turnout than everyone’s predicting,” Ms. Potter Madewell said. “If we’re having nicer weather, hopefully more people will feel encouraged to get out and vote.”
Some predict a low turnout based on the weak numbers in the Sept. 10 primary and the low number of early voters and absentee ballots.
Both men on Saturday mixed campaigning with events they said weren’t political.
Mr. Bell’s activities for the rest of Saturday, even though not purely political, were to bring him in contact with voters.
Those included the annual luncheon of Toledo Interfaith Mass Choir, an event to welcome a new pastor to Phillips Temple CME Church on Palmwood Avenue, a funeral, and the UT football game.
The mayor was called to the pulpit by Toledo City Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson to present a proclamation to the church’s new pastor, Antoine Shyne.
The Rev. Ireatha Hollie told the small gathering that the event was not meant to promote either candidate, but she urged people to vote Tuesday.
“People bled and died for you to have your right [to vote],” she said.
Mayor Bell’s plan for today includes stops at several central-city churches and a return to Parkway Plaza for a banquet commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Anne Grady Foundation.
Mr. Collins spoke later in the day Saturday at the Muslim Youth Activism Day at the Al-Madinah Community Center, 3151 Chollett Rd.
The event, organizers said, aimed to teach young Muslims about their civil rights, combat Islamophobia, how to live as an American Muslim, and other topics.
Mr. Collins was invited by a friend. Many participants were not Toledoans, instead coming from Detroit, Cleveland, and other cities.
Mr. Collins told the crowd about how Irish-Catholic immigrants faced their own discrimination but eventually were accepted in America.
He said to never depart from core values or be ashamed of their culture and religion. He finished with a personal story about climbing a mountain with his son, Michael, who died in 2000 at the age of 29.
He also attended the Greater AFL-CIO Dinner on Saturday at the Premier Banquet Complex at 4480 Heatherdowns.
Before the UT football game, Mayor Bell attended a dinner fund-raiser at The Pinnacle for St. George Coptic Orthodox Church.
Blade staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.