The campaigning for mayor of Toledo ends today — at 7:30 p.m.
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That’s when the polls close in Ohio, ending a tough campaign between Mayor Mike Bell and his opponent, Councilman D. Michael Collins — both of whom planned to spend the day making last-minute outreach to voters.
The polls for the general election open at 6:30 a.m. in Ohio and at 7 a.m. in Michigan, where voting ends at 8 p.m.
“We have left it all on the field,” Mr. Collins said of his campaign.
With the temperature dropping, Mr. Collins and a handful of supporters Monday held mini-billboards and waved to motorists outside the shuttered Northwest District police substation on Sylvania Avenue that Mr. Collins has vowed to reopen, if elected.
“We started this here on May 15 with the announcement that I was running and this is where we are ending it,” Mr. Collins said.
Mayor Bell held his usual Monday staff and directors’ meetings before breaking into campaign mode for the afternoon.
His first stop took him to Rudy’s Hot Dog on Summit Street in Washington Township, where he kibitzed with two brothers, Zach 14, and Andrew Whiting, 12, and their father, Doug Whiting.
“You guys owe me big money,” he told the boys, predicting if their pictures were in the paper, it would significantly improve their popularity with girls. “Don't think you can get out of it,” he said.
Mr. Bell hugged the store’s manager, Yiota Proestos, who said the Bell family are regulars at the restaurant.
“He did a lot of good things for Toledo,” said Mrs. Proestos, whose husband, Kip Proestos, runs the restaurant with her. They live in Toledo.
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A man wearing a United Auto Workers Local 14 jacket observed the mayor and said quietly, “Time to go.”
His union is backing Mr. Collins, and his union president, Ray Wood, was out on the roadway waving at passing motorists with Mr. Collins.933d3535-31cc-4820-a8fa-15125196d1fe
The mayor popped in at Szars men’s clothing store and the Mayfly Inn. At Friendship Park Community Center, still in Point Place, Mr. Bell spoke with two groups of women who were playing cards and exercising.
Marge Lesle, 86, said her mind was still not made up.
“They’re both well-qualified. It’s going to be hard,” Ms. Lesle said, her exercise session stymied because of stored voting equipment blocking the TV.
Most political observers predict turnout will be low, in part because the Democratic Party has no candidate in the race — for the first time anyone can remember. Both mayoral candidates are independents.
The Lucas County Board of Elections has received 5,513 absentee ballots — about a third of the 15,158 returned in the 2009 mayoral election.
Evan Watkins Morrison, a Democratic political operative whose candidate, Councilman Joe McNamara, lost in the primary election, is expecting a turnout well below the 68,845 who voted four years ago.
“I find it hard to believe we’re going to break 45,000,” Mr. Watkins Morrison said, labeling it, “the most widely ignored local election in history.”
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He said the messaging of the candidates has been disjointed and often hung up on “minutiae,” and said the unexpected defeat of both Democratic candidates in the primary, Mr. McNamara and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, left some voters unsure where to turn.
Mr. Collins spent about an hour waving to motorists on West Alexis Avenue across from the General Motors Toledo Transmission plant before doing the same at the closed police substation.
“I think wave-bys are an effective way to be visible,” Mr. Collins said.
The Collins campaign included about 55 active volunteers, said campaign manager Stephen Leggett, some of whom were at the Collins South Toledo campaign office Monday morning calling volunteers to staff polling locations today.
“Can we count on you tomorrow to be at a polling location?” Tina Scott, a West Toledo Block Watch captain, said into a cell phone while tapping a pen on a stack of pro-Collins postcards.
“I believe in him,” Ms. Scott said. “Whenever you need something, he is there for you. It’s not that I don’t like Mayor Bell, it’s that he hasn’t done anything for our neighborhood.”
Mr. Bell has done no wave-bys and almost no door-knocking, preferring to meet people through his mayoral activities, which typically involve multiple public events every day and on weekends.
At Mr. Bell’s headquarters in a rented downtown office suite, campaign signs were stacked and ready to be distributed at polling places around the city today.
Campaign manager Mary Jo Potter Madewell said volunteers have been knocking on doors and dropping literature for months, though they are rarely seen with the mayor because overt politicking at mayoral events is inappropriate.
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“We’ve had some out canvassing for us since July,” Ms. Potter Madewell said. “The big difference for the mayor is he has functioned as the mayor. We are operating concurrently but not interwoven because it’s not appropriate to do so.”
City Councilman Tyrone Riley, a district councilman and not on the ballot this year, said he couldn’t predict the outcome.
“This race is going to be close. Incumbency has its privileges and it’s going to be difficult to overcome incumbency. The mayor has been getting around like most mayors do and telling people the good things the city’s been doing. But Mike Collins is a formidable opponent,” Mr. Riley said.
Toledo voters will also elect six at-large councilmen, two municipal judges, a clerk of courts, and three school board members.
Toledo Public Schools is seeking renewal of a 6.5-mill, five-year operating levy that provides more than $13 million annually.
Levies are on the ballot in Rossford, Northwood, Springfield, Ottawa Hills, Anthony Wayne, Benton-Carroll-Salem, Woodmore, Eastwood, Elmwood, and Napoleon.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s 0.4-mill, five-year levy is up for renewal. And the Lucas County Development Disabilities Board seeks to replace levies of 0.3 and 0.5 mills based on property values from decades ago with a 1-mill levy that would increase revenue for the board by nearly 80 percent compared to the current levies.
Staff Writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.