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Published: Monday, 11/4/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

#ToledoVotes13

City’s churches take center stage in heated race

Mayoral contenders pray, politick

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Mayor Mike Bell, left, and Calvin Lawshe, city economic development commissioner, say good-bye to Lillie Winston, chief usher, after services at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. Mayor Mike Bell, left, and Calvin Lawshe, city economic development commissioner, say good-bye to Lillie Winston, chief usher, after services at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.
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The two candidates for mayor kept working for votes Sunday, including stops at central-city churches by both Mayor Mike Bell and challenger Councilman D. Michael Collins.

Mr. Bell attended services at Friendship Baptist Church at Nebraska Avenue and Reynolds Road and at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church on Dorr Street.

Mr. Collins went to his own church, Gesu Catholic in West Toledo, for Mass, then headed to a political fund-raiser for Councilman Tyrone Riley at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church on Hoag Street. Later, he walked door-to-door in the old south end.

At Jerusalem Missionary Baptist, the mayor received an endorsement from the pulpit from Pastor Willie Perryman, Jr.

“I can’t tell you who to vote for. I can tell you who I’m going to vote for. That’s Mayor Mike Bell,” Mr. Perryman said during a service accompanied by a high-energy choir.

Outside the sanctuary, church member Irene Roberts, 62, said she would vote for Mr. Bell and guessed most of the congregation would. “I know that they want to give him another turn,” she said. “I work at the polls and I’m just hoping we’ll be a little bit better than we were back in September,” she said of the disappointing turnout of about 15 percent of registered voters.

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Candace Garmon, 46, of Toledo, also a member of Jerusalem Baptist, said too she would vote for Mr. Bell. She moved back to Toledo recently to open a facility for substance abusers and said she followed Mr. Bell’s administration while in North Carolina.

“I do believe he will be the right candidate in getting the city back together,” Ms. Garmon said.

Church member Mike Roberts, 63, Irene Roberts’ brother-in-law, said he’s already voted for the other candidate, Mr. Collins, after having voted for Mr. Bell four years ago.

Mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins shares a laugh with Connie Oates, left, during a fund-raiser for Councilman Tyrone Riley at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church. Mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins shares a laugh with Connie Oates, left, during a fund-raiser for Councilman Tyrone Riley at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church.
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“I think he’ll be more for the neighborhoods,” Mr. Roberts said. He also thought Mr. Collins would have better solutions to crime and gangs and jobs for minorities. “I didn’t even worry about that racial issue they’ve been speaking about. That doesn’t bother me.”

The racial issue centers on accusations Mr. Collins is racially insensitive or even racist because he denied that Toledo Police racially profile — enforcing the law more harshly on minorities.

At Mt. Pilgrim, Mr. Collins met a man whom he had arrested nearly 40 years ago. Larry Oates, 58, reminded Mr. Collins of their meeting long ago, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence for theft, and told him he was supporting him for mayor.

Mr. Collins, 69, was a police officer from 1973 to 1999.

“He was a cop when I got in trouble. He picked me up. He treated me very fair and gave me total respect,” said Mr. Oates, who is black. He said he voted for Mr. Bell four years ago but predicted Mr. Collins will win the election in a “slam-dunk.”

Mr. Collins said he recalled the case and said Mr. Oates was a gentleman then and again Sunday.

“Seeing him today he appears to have a lifestyle that qualifies him as a very respectable and honorable man,” Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Collins then walked door-to-door on Colburn Street in the Old South End, a low-income neighborhood with many vacant lots and neglected homes.

Ervin Butler, 54, a recent transplant from Elyria, said he believes Mr. Collins is “for the people, he’s for the veterans.”

Mr. Butler lamented the number of demolished homes and held the decay in the neighborhood against Mr. Bell. He believes Mr. Collins will clean up the neighborhood.

Cindy Holland, 52, who lives on Colburn, said she’s “up in the air” about who to support but was leaning Mr. Collins’ way. Her house has a brand-new privacy fence, installed because her garage was burglarized several weeks ago. She was not happy with the police investigation.

“When they came out, they made it sound like we did it. They were really, really nasty,” she said.

Mr. Collins acknowledged the neighborhood has a record of very low turnout. He said he wanted to campaign there so people would see he was serious about reclaiming deteriorating neighborhoods.

Mr. Bell often points out in forums and in his advertising that his administration has demolished hundreds more homes in his four years than his predecessors did, and he highlights the data-driven crime-fighting work of police Chief Derrick Diggs that he said has driven down the crime rate.

Mr. Bell said he doesn’t have the time to go door-to-door, and he prefers large, organized events where he can see a lot of people.

“I’m trying to get to the people where they can see me and ask me questions, so that’s what I’m doing,” Mr. Bell said.

Sunday, he also visited his home church, True Vine Missionary Baptist on Russell Street, and Serenity Church of God in Christ on Woodstock Avenue. His next event was a benefit for the Anne Grady Foundation at Parkway Plaza in Maumee.

Both men planned to be at home Sunday night to pass out Halloween treats.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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