Jackie and Paul Floering were outnumbered, but they liked it that way as politician after politician who attended the Meet the Candidates Forum at the Commodore Perry Veterans of Foreign War Post last night in South Toledo sat down for a personal interview.
There was no shortage of politicians on one side of the post, where a podium and tables were set up for the forum, but the Floerings were two of the few who wanted to listen, and listen they did.
“The last time we had a forum here, there were a lot of people and not that many candidates for them to talk to,” said Jackie Floering. “Tonight it was completely different. There were more of them than us, but I liked it. You were able to talk with them one-on-one.”
At the other end of the hall was the bar, smoky and dark, with a considerably larger crowd that lined the chairs around it watching television and chatting among themselves.
“I really don't get too excited about local politics,” said Truman Haas, who has been coming to the bar for about three years. “I pretty much leave politics to the politicians. Everybody has a job to do and everybody would like to have a job.”
Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger and his opponent, Tim Kuhlman, District 11 state Senate candidate Phil Barbosa, and District 47 House candidate Allen Roy joined District 48 candidate Cathleen Voyles-Baden standing around the front post area.
City council Democratic president Peter Ujvagi, running against Mr. Roy, walked into the door nearest the bar and immediately started working the crowd there.
“I've been coming to [the Commodore Perry] candidates forums for years,” Mr. Ujvagi said. “VFW Halls are so important because this is where people really do come together. You have to make a connection with people and be able to take rejection, because some people here don't want to be bothered.”
After the bar, Mr. Ujvagi worked the area where most of the other candidates stood as well, including Mr. Roy.
“He's been doing this since the Carter Administration,” Mr. Roy said. “He has an inherent name I.D. I can't compete with [Ujvagi's name recognition]. What I have to do is get in front of people and tell them I'm Allen Roy. I'm different and I'm the voice of change.”
Mr. Roy picked his spots last night, managing to be the last candidate to speak with the Floerings. The couple sat for a give-and-take with whomever sat in front of them.
“We wish there were more people here,” Jackie Floering said. “It would have been nice if they had more people to talk to, but I got to address a lot of issues with them tonight.”
Who made the biggest impression?
“Phil Barbosa,” Mrs. Floering said. “I saw his name but I really didn't know him until he started talking with us and we connected immediately on a number of issues, including education. He did a pretty good job.”
The Floerings said Mr. Barbosa and Mr. Roy earned yard signs in front of their home for the effort.