Voters in Toledo and around the region will be making decisions about local leaders and issues when they go to the polls tomorrow in the first election since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The attacks haven't had much of an impact in the way campaigns are waged or on the issues in the races, although the candidates for Toledo mayor have run campaigns that have been more civil than they might otherwise have been, partly because campaign strategists sensed the public was not in the mood for an acrimonious race.
As a result of the attacks, public safety has been an important issue that state Rep. Jack Ford and Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest have embraced in their efforts to be the one to succeed Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
While patriotism remains at a high pitch, it is unclear whether the newfound love of country will translate into civic duty done. Voter requests for absentee ballots from the Lucas County board of elections are running behind the number of requests received four years ago, as of Friday afternoon. The board is expected to release a prediction of voter turnout today.
Polls are open tomorrow in Ohio from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. In Michigan, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mr. Kest and Mr. Ford headline a ballot packed with Toledo city candidates.
Toledo's 12 city council seats are up for grabs. Twenty-two candidates, including all 12 incumbents, are seeking four more years in office. The six at-large council members - Democrats Peter Ujvagi, Peter Gerken, Betty Shultz, Art Jones, Louis Escobar, and Republican Gene Zmuda - are challenged by six others: Republicans Dennis Lange, Matthew Zaleski, and George Sarantou, and Democrats Terry Shankland, Carol Buno, and Pearl Griffin.
District 1 Councilwoman Wilma Brown and District 3 Councilman Bob McCloskey are unopposed. In District 2, Republican Rob Ludeman is challenged by Democrat Ed Cichy; District 4 Councilwoman Edna Brown, a Democrat, is challenged by Scott Robinson, a Democrat. In District 5, incumbent Tina Skeldon Wozniak, a Democrat, is challenged by Republican David Dmytryka, while District 6 Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat, is running for another term against Republican Patrick Desmond.
One of the most contentious races features Toledo Municipal Clerk of Court Maggie Thurber, a Republican, who is challenged by state Sen. Linda Furney, a Democrat.
Ms. Thurber, an eight-year incumbent, has defended her work to computerize what was an office choked with paper. Ms. Furney, who is facing term limits in Columbus, has criticized the efficiency of the office, but she has had trouble on the campaign trail proving her allegations of sloppy record-keeping in the office.
Police agencies who use the office and its records daily have endorsed Ms. Thurber.
Voters will decide a contested municipal court judgeship, as Judge Amy Berling, a Republican, runs for another six-year term. She is challenged by lawyer John Mattimoe, a Democrat.
Local voters will vote to fill three seats on the Toledo School Board. Six candidates are running. Four candidates are running for three seats on the Lucas County Educational Services Center, formerly known as the county school board.
Toledo voters also will decide on the renewal of a 0.75 percent income tax that would last four more years. The tax, which raises $51 million for the city each year, pays for basic police, fire, garbage, and repair services.
Other money measures on the ballot for Lucas County voters:
Suburban voters will decide important races too.
Voters in Oregon will choose a new mayor in an election that will substantially change the government. Two of the seven council members - Marge Brown and Michael Seferian - are giving up their seats to run for mayor. The other five council members are running for re-election, but seven other challengers are on the ballot.
Six candidates are running for four seats on the council in Maumee, and six are running for three spots on Perrysburg's council. In Sylvania, five candidates are running for two seats on council.
Voters in area villages will choose leaders tomorrow.
In Swanton, Councilman Jim Bushong is challenging Mayor Tandy Grubbs. Seven people are running for four seats on the village council.
Whitehouse voters will decide a rematch from four years ago, as four candidates - Herb Little, Jim Baber, Angela Kuhn, and Bill May - again go on the ballot for three seats on the village council. Mr. May lost out on a seat last time by one vote.
In Waterville, two incumbents face two newcomers in races for village council.
In southeast Michigan, Monroe voters will elect a mayor - either incumbent C.D. “Al” Cappuccilli or challenger John Iacoangeli - and decide two contested district city council seats. Luna Pier residents will elect a new mayor and decide which of six people will fill three city council seats.
Voters in Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are electing mayors tomorrow.
In Cleveland, former state representative and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jane Campbell leads Raymond Pierce, a former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, by 7 percent in a poll conducted last week in the race to succeed Mayor Michael White.
But because Ms. Campbell's support has not reached 50 percent, Mr. Pierce is still in the race. Fifteen percent who participated in the poll, commissioned by The Plain Dealer newspaper, said they are undecided.
Mr. White stunned many in Cleveland when he decided not to seek another term in office.
It's a much different story in Detroit, where most voters have made up their minds, but are mixed over the choices to replace Dennis Archer. In a poll released yesterday by the Detroit News, city council President Gil Hill leads state Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick by a single point - 48 percent to 47 percent - with 5 percent undecided.
In Cincinnati, Mayor Charlie Luken has an edge over challenger Courtis Fuller going into Election Day, as voters there go to polls to elect their first strong mayor in several decades. Mr. Luken and Mr. Fuller, both former television news anchors, used to share an anchor desk at a station there.
Cincinnati voters agreed in 1999 to toss out the traditional city manager form of government and give their leader at city hall new powers. Tomorrow's vote will install the first strong mayor under the new city charter, as that city, mired in racial unrest, tries to mimic the success Toledo has had on several fronts recently.
Because new mayors will replace incumbents in Toledo, Detroit, and Cleveland, and because of a new charter that will govern Cincinnati, all four cities will enter new eras of government.