Opal Covey, a self-styled prophetess, says that a vision from God showed that the city’s tourism industry is its untapped ‘pot of gold.’ Amusement parks are the answer, she says.
Last in a series of Toledo mayoral profiles
As far as Opal Covey is concerned, this year’s special mayoral election is not really a race at all. It’s about reclaiming what is hers.
Ms. Covey, 75, the self-proclaimed prophetess of South Toledo, is at this point a fixture in the city’s political scene. She’s in the midst of her fifth run for the mayoral seat, and her low official results each time are simply, to her, evidence of the rampant corruption in Toledo that only she can eradicate.
“I have to run until I become mayor,” Ms. Covey said. “This is God’s plan, for me to be here and to be mayor.”
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Despite her poor results in past elections — she’s never cracked more than 400 votes — Ms. Covey believes there are thousands who support her in the city. The powers that be, however, won’t let her win and have rigged elections to keep her out.
‘I'm going back to reclaim what I won in 2013,’ Opal Covey, 75, says. This is the fifth time she’s run for mayor of Toledo, but she says more powerful people have stolen the election.
That’s why this isn’t an election. D. Michael Collins, just as Mike Bell did before him, stole the election, she said. And Mr. Collins’ death on Feb. 6 was God’s wrath.
Ms. Covey’s politics are centered on two main approaches: her claimed direct link to God, which means what she says is God’s will, and her anti-government populism, which seems born out of the closure of a handful of businesses she owned in Toledo, the most famous of which was closed after a raid by animal cruelty investigators found hundreds of animals in her East Toledo store. She spent 10 days in jail after she had been convicted of animal cruelty charges.
The history is evidence of the city’s corruption and anti-businesses attitude. She’s just an ordinary citizen, she said, crushed under the powerful who care not for the neighborhoods. God has taken his wrath out on the city, leaving it in decline.
“It’s the government, not the citizens that are at fault,” she said. “There’s no help for you downtown.”
The Nov. 3 special election is to fill the two years remaining in the term of Mayor Collins, who died Feb. 6, after he was elected in November, 2013. He was succeeded automatically by the president of city council, Paula Hicks-Hudson, who is a Democrat.
Also running for the office are Mayor Hicks-Hudson; former mayor Mike Bell, a Democrat-turned independent; Mr. Collins’ widow, Sandy Drabik Collins, who is campaigning as an independent; former mayor Carty Finkbeiner, an unendorsed Democrat who served three terms as mayor; former city councilman Mike Ferner, an independent, and independent Toledo Councilman Sandy Spang.
Ms. Covey is running as a Republican and claims to be the party’s endorsed candidate. Jon Stainbrook, chair of the Lucas County Republican Party, says that’s not true, as the party has not yet endorsed anyone in the race.
“She’s not a legitimate candidate,” he said.
Ms. Covey has previously been registered as a Democrat.
Her campaign platform has not changed much over the years. It’s based around the “pot of gold” Toledo is sitting on, its untapped tourism industry. A vision from God told her that the creation of amusement parks in the downtown area, in particular Promenade Park, would bring hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue in the city.
Opal Covey wants to eliminate the city’s red-light cameras and opposes the decriminalization of marijuana. She is against using capital improvement funds for city operations.
When asked why Sandusky isn’t a thriving metropolis, despite the presence of Cedar Point, which is essentially her vision, she said she doesn’t know, but she partially blamed steep ticket prices. Her parks, she said, would be priced low, so the common person could attend.
The announced plan for ProMedica to build a parking garage on part of Promenade Park would be left up to God, she said. That project, as well as Mr. Bell’s sale of the Marina District to Chinese investors, were tricks by the elite to keep God’s plan from completion, she said.
Ms. Covey said she thinks the city’s red-light cameras should be eliminated. She doesn’t think capital improvement funds should be used for operating purposes. And she opposes decriminalization of marijuana, claiming it “gives leeway to the devil.”
John Schulte, president of the Greater Toledo Republican Club, has effectively been serving as Ms. Covey’s campaign manager. A longtime friend, Mr. Schulte doesn’t deny that Ms. Covey isn’t exactly a mainstream candidate, but he says that this year’s unusual race — which lacks a primary election, meaning all seven candidates will be on the ballot — may create such a fractured electorate that Ms. Covey could have a chance.
“If ever there was a year that Opal Covey could win, this is it,” Mr. Schulte said.
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