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County narrows list for board openings; city mum on choice

A longtime corporate executive, a veteran union leader, an engineering troubleshooter, a legal instructor, and a major real-estate broker are vying for a seat on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors.

They're in contention with one of Toledo's best-known politicians and a University of Toledo professor whose economic development efforts wowed two Florida governors.

Lucas County commissioners say they'll choose who will get their nod tomorrow. The new member will join the agency at a time when it's struggling to boost seaport cargo and airport passengers, and figure out its role in the battle to lure and grow a new generation of good jobs.

The board has two openings. Mayor Jack Ford controls the other one, and he's still mulling whom to appoint.

The commissioners had 23 applicants. They are interviewing seven finalists.

Only commissioner Harry Barlos has offered his top choices for the opening: former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, because of his mayoral experience, and UT professor Christopher Shove, because of his insight on economic development.

The seven finalists are:

  • Mr. Finkbeiner.

    Supporters of the former Toledo mayor say he became a passionate leader for revitalizing the city and a tough taskmaster. Critics say he was a bully and a grandstander during his eight-year tenure, which ended 13 months ago

    Now a TV commentator, the former mayor said he could help develop the region, telling commissioners there is “meaningful work to be done.”

  • Richard Gabel.

    The Clay High School graduate rose from the CSX coal docks to become vice president of the Atlantic Coast District of the International Longshoreman's Association.

    The union deals with all Great Lakes ports, and Mr. Gabel said he would push to increase the city's port business, which has dropped significantly during the past three decades.

  • Susan Gilmore.

    The lawyer and certified public accountant has spent eight years as a legal research and writing instructor at UT. She has vied for past political appointments and campaigned for Democrat Ray Kest in 2001 before becoming a Republican.

    She's a board member of two economic development agencies, Regional Growth Partnership and Regional Technology Alliance - sister agencies to the port authority - which she said would help her push economic development.

  • Harlan Reichle, Jr.

    He co-founded a firm that became one of the top three commercial land brokers in the area before selling a minority stake in the business to national firm CB Richard Ellis. Mr. Reichle remains a part-owner and managing director.

    Mr. Reichle also is a Growth Partnership board member and told commissioners that his background would help him push economic development.

  • Dr. Shove.

    The former Marine and Norman, Okla., city councilman has written about successful regional economic development. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his predecessor, Bob Martinez, have touted Dr. Shove's knowledge of developing a technology-based economy, something Toledo leaders are trying to do.

    Now director of UT's geographic research center, Dr. Shove told the commissioners that he has studied port authorities for 20 years and could use his knowledge to be an “informed advocate” of the agency and the region.

  • David Wallace.

    President of Benchmark Engineering, he has gained a reputation as a troubleshooter on major construction projects. He became Toledo's point man to keep Jeep, surprising even his friends when he envisioned where to put the plant.

    Last year, he pushed an idea to build a special freight tram through Toledo to help increase factory productivity and create jobs. The port authority agreed to fund the study if the state did, but the state didn't.

  • Kenneth Zeck.

    Mr. Zeck spent 23 years at Owens-Illinois, Inc., becoming senior facilities manager, and 10 years at Pilkington, where he headed real estate, environmental affairs, and risk management. Since 1998, he's been a consultant to major companies looking for real estate.

    The UT graduate told the commissioners that he could use his broad experience to foster economic development.

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