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Possible issue of race in Toledo election results is debated

Mayor-elect won city’s outer wards

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    Michael Moore, of Toledo, votes at St. Clement Community Center in the Washington Local School district. Voters in outer wards tended to support Wade Kapszukiewicz.

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    Incumbent Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson casts her ballot on the second-to-last day of early voting Sunday.

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Incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson handily won Toledo’s predominantly black central-city wards in Tuesday’s election, but the African-American candidate and endorsed Democrat was swamped by much higher turnout in outer ring wards where voters are more likely to be white and politically independent.

Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz won all the ring wards in Point Place, West Toledo, South Toledo, and East Toledo.


Michael Moore, of Toledo, votes at St. Clement Community Center in the Washington Local School district. Voters in outer wards tended to support Wade Kapszukiewicz.

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Whether that means Toledo voters were motivated by racial preference or prejudice is a matter of opinion.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz, a former councilman and unendorsed Democrat, won with 55.6 percent of the vote to Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s 44.4 percent, according to unofficial results by the Lucas County Board of Elections.

A Blade analysis of the unofficial results compared with the results from two previous black mayors who ran unsuccessfully for re-election showed that Ms. Hicks-Hudson won the highest percentages of votes in the predominantly black wards of the three of them.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s percentages of victory in the largely black wards was higher than either Mayor Jack Ford or Mayor Mike Bell in 2005 and 2013, respectively, the years they ran unsuccessfully for re-election.

It may have been due to her unique combination of both identifying with other black voters and her status as the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate. Neither Mayor Ford nor Mayor Bell had the endorsement of the Democratic Party in their re-election bids.

Party-endorsed candidates benefit from party-supplied money, skilled political help, and the candidate’s name on the party’s slate card.

Of the three, Mayor Bell tended to perform strongest in the predominantly white wards, such as 1, 3, 16, 21, 22, and 23. Though it was offered to him he declined the Republican endorsement.

Observers were divided Wednesday on how big a part race played in this week’s election.

Bernard “Pete” Culp, an African-American member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and former city housing official, said white voters didn’t give Ms. Hicks-Hudson the credit she was due for accomplishments in her nearly three years in office following the death of Mayor D. Michael Collins in 2015.



He said Mr. Kapszukiewicz’s campaign appealed to those “who did not appreciate and understand what she had done, and that’s predominantly white voters.”

He said Toledo’s black population is “angry” following the third defeat of a black incumbent. Mayor Ford, a Democrat who was elected in 2001, lost to fellow Democrat Carty Finkbeiner in 2005 after Mr. Finkbeiner wrested the party’s endorsement away from Mr. Ford.

Mayor Bell, who was elected as an independent in 2009, lost to Mr. Collins, also an independent, in 2013.

The Rev. Otis Gordon, pastor of Warren AME Church, said black voters want somebody whose interest is the central city, and they saw Mayor Hicks-Hudson as that person.

“She was strongly supported by the African-American community because she sought those particular votes, not that she didn’t go to other segment of the community as well,” said Mr. Gordon, who chairs the Toledo Community Coalition. “They supported her because they wanted their voices to be heard as it relates to inner-city issues, policing issues, allocations of money, even the roads we drive on the inner city.”

Brother Washington Muhammad, a drug-treatment consultant who is a leader of the Community Solidarity Response Network that organized candidate forums in the central city, suggested that voters have only themselves to blame if they don’t like the drubbing that black incumbent mayoral candidates have received.

“The black people make up maybe 70,000 [of the city population], and of those 70,000 maybe 40,000, maybe, are registered,” Mr. Muhammad said, noting that a small percentage of those who are registered actually voted.

“It falls in the hands of the voters as far as who they would like to lead the city, and I think you have to respect the voters and not insult the voters for being a part of the process. If we were to insult Wade for winning, if we were to minimize Wade for winning, then we minimize the process,” he said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the election is more complex than simply attributing voter behavior to their race. He said the same wards he won on Tuesday also voted for Barack Obama for President five years ago.

“If it was all about race then Barack Obama wouldn’t have won those wards,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “I recognize that Paula had a lot of passionate support among the African-American community. I realize that bridges are going to have to be built to make sure I earn the support of all neighborhoods, all backgrounds.”

Mayor Hicks-Hudson did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Voters turned out in much larger numbers in the predominantly white wards than they did in predominantly black wards. For example, Ward 23, which overlays the Trilby neighborhood in northwest Toledo, had the highest turnout in the city, with 3,775 voters. Mr. Kapszukiciecz carried that ward with 75 percent of the vote.

Similarly, Ward 3, where the General Motors transmission plant is located, had 2,984 voters. Mr. Kapszukiewicz won with 73 percent.

In the wards where Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s support was strongest, fewer voters turned out. She received 93 percent of the vote in Ward 14, centering on Detroit and Nebraska avenues. The total vote there was 1,890 people.

The ward with the lowest turnout was Ward 2, the Old North End, with a total of 656 voters. Ms. Hicks-Hudson won 62 percent of the vote there.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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