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Published: Saturday, 7/1/2000 - Updated: 1 year ago

COMMENTARY

Of mayoral indifference, a fast-food wince, and an old typo

BY THOMAS WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST
Walton Walton
THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Disappointment, but not surprise. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the low turnout in Toledo’s Sept. 10 primary election. It confirmed my long-held belief that most folks aren’t ready to really pay attention to politics until the calendar says it’s autumn.

Those who did troop to the polls — just 15.4 percent of Toledo’s registered voters — were pretty much committed to one candidate or another all along. In a low-turnout election, the organizational and campaigning skills of the political parties and, in Toledo at least, organized labor are critically important. These made the outcome all the more surprising.

For the first time in perhaps forever, Toledoans will choose a mayor who claims to be neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Both incumbent Michael Bell and Councilman D. Michael Collins ran as independents.

Here’s an interesting statistical analysis of the mayoral primary you won’t see anywhere else: The leading vote-getter for mayor, Mr. Bell, received 6,340 votes, while the leading vote-getter in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary received more than a quarter million. Both men ran in crowded fields.

Of course, comparing Big Apples to Little Oranges is unfair. Even so, though New York City’s population is 28 times greater than Toledo’s, 8.2 million to 287,000, give or take, New York’s vote total for the front-runner was more than 40 times greater than Toledo’s. Maybe it really does take a good sexting scandal to catch people’s eye.

A lot of political observers, myself included, were moderately surprised that Anita Lopez failed to make the cut. A woman and a Hispanic, she represented a clear alternative to the other three serious contenders, all males, at the top of the field. But her campaign just never sparked.

Mr. Collins’ second-place showing presents a frustrating conundrum for the Lucas County Democratic Party. The party and the public employee unions haven’t forgotten Mayor Bell’s support two years ago of limits on the collective bargaining rights of Ohio public employees.

Mr. Collins, a former cop and patrolmen’s union president, was on the unions’ side in that one, opposing Senate Bill 5 and state Issue 2.

But Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler left himself little wiggle room recently: “I am not going to endorse an independent or a Republican.”

So here we are on Sept. 23. It’s finally autumn. The field is reduced to two, chosen by fewer than one in seven of Toledo’s registered voters. Our next mayor will be named Mike. That much we know.

Listen carefully to both men over the next six weeks and vote for whichever one you want. But whatever you do, don’t blow it off. It’s time to pay attention. People who offer themselves up for elected public service deserve more than your indifference.

The McDonald’s fast-food empire certainly doesn’t need any advice from me, but I’ll offer some anyway. Every time I see that TV commercial for the 50-cent ice cream cones, I wince. A grown man pulls up to the McDonald’s drive-through and the teenage kid at the window hands him his cone.

“Thanks, Mister,” the adult says. “You’re welcome, Sir,” the kid replies.

Obviously the adult’s comment reflects the joy of a childlike moment for him, so it seems to me the commercial would have been funnier, and more in keeping with the age reversal theme, if the McDonald’s kid had responded “You’re welcome, Sonny.”

But what do I know?

A friend of mine, retired firefighter Bob Curtis, still carries his military identification in his wallet, dating back to his service in the Navy in the late 1960s. He finds it a great source of amusement, and not just because the photo depicts a young sailor he barely recognizes any more.

Mr. Curtis served as a noncommissioned petty officer, but the ID describes him as a “non-pretty officer.”

“It’s official,” Mr. Curtis says. “I’m not pretty.”

Could be a typographical error, I suppose, a slip of the finger by a clerk. After all, the “R” key is right next to the “E” key.

Nah, I think some seaman/​typist decided to have a little fun.

My brother George, who lives in Easton, Pa., read our column a while back about the colorful quotes of professional athletes and coaches and passed along his favorite.

Baseball great Ralph Kiner finished the 1947 season with 51 home runs. He thought he deserved a pay raise, so he went to team owner John Galbreath, a central Ohio native, and asked for one.

Mr. Galbreath, so the story goes, reminded Mr. Kiner that the Pirates finished in last place. “Where do you think we would have finished without your 51 home runs?” he asked.

End of discussion.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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