Republican Rob Ludeman, a Toledo councilman since 1994, is expected to announce this morning he will formally begin considering a run for mayor.
"I am putting together an exploratory committee to look toward the mayoral election,'' he said yesterday. "I want to judge the support that's out there. I get stopped by folks every day asking if I would be willing to run.''
Mr. Ludeman would challenge incumbent Democrat Jack Ford, who has been raising money for his re-election effort for well over a year. He has hundreds of thousands of dollars in his war chest, aide Meghan Vahey said recently.
Mr. Ludeman, 51, said he wants to "test the pulse of people'' to see if there is sufficient support for a campaign.
A real estate agent by trade, Mr. Ludeman ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the county board of commissioners in 2000. He said he is moved to action by discontent he senses among Toledo voters.
"There's a real concern that they don't see the city moving in the right direction right now, or that they see things are moving too slowly ,'' he said. "I think they feel the leader is not visible or energetic. I think everybody realizes that we've had an economic downturn, but that's the time where a real leader should be rallying the city, not sitting quietly.''
Mr. Ford could not be reached yesterday for comment.
The councilman, who represents District 2 in South and West Toledo, will make his announcement official in a 10 a.m. news conference at Promenade Park.
Mr. Ford won the office in a 2001 blowout over fellow Democrat Ray Kest, defeating the county treasurer by more than 20 percentage points. Mr. Ford has responded to a city budget in decline with cuts in city programs and positions. Toledo still faces a budget shortfall next year.
The race could grow more crowded. Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who served eight years in the city's top job in the 1990s, had at one time indicated he might be interested in making a comeback. He still talks passionately about city issues, at times offering criticism of Mr. Ford's leadership. Mr. Finkbeiner did not respond to a call for comment last night.
Mr. Finkbeiner has maintained a high public profile since leaving office, hosting a public affairs program and doing weekly commentaries on Channel 13 ABC WTVG.