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Ludeman says experience qualifies him for mayor job

If he stays in the race, he likely would face Democratic incumbent Jack Ford, who is expected to seek a second term in November, 2005.

Mr. Ludeman said he is forming an exploratory committee and has set up a Web site, www.robludeman.com, to determine what support he has among Toledo residents.

He said he is concerned with the city's pace in job development and capital improvement projects.

"We are at a critical juncture here in Toledo today," he said at a news conference in Promenade Park. "As a businessman, I know economic development is critical to our future and understand what is needed to create and retain jobs here in Toledo," he said.

Mr. Ludeman, 51, has been a city councilman 11 years, representing District 2 in South and West Toledo. He is a real estate agent.

"Things are moving slow," he said, promising to bring energy to the city administration. "The processes have seemed to be slower. When looking at major projects, delays cost money and time."

Mr. Ludeman has advocated for the revitalization of Southwyck Shopping Center and helped establish a tax-break-eligible enterprise zone in the area.

He voted for the city's smoking ban, although he criticized the administration for what he claimed was a lack of direction to business owners on how they could make the transition.

"I don't think [business owners] were prepared for the implementation," he said. "There wasn't a coordinated effort to assist the business owners with the implementation. That caused confusion and hard feelings."

Mayor Ford declined to comment on Mr. Ludeman's announcement, saying only that it's early and he plans to "wait and see what the final slate will be."

Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman Sandy Isenberg was more vocal, noting that the city councilman lost his bid for a county commission seat in 2000 to Democratic incumbent Bill Copeland, who recently died.

"I find it highly unlikely that he'll be able to beat Jack Ford or any Democrat at this point," Ms. Isenberg said. Toledo's last Republican mayor was Donna Owens, who served from 1984-90.

Bernadette Noe, county GOP chairman, said her party is interested in getting a candidate in the mayor's office that is more focused on job development.

Ms. Noe acknowledged that there is plenty of time before the September, 2005, primary and the ballot is wide open. She said in the event that another candidate shows interest, the party will have a decision to make.

"We know that as Republicans in the City of Toledo, it's tough. It's tough to get our message out, so we're doing it early," Ms. Noe said. "I'm just confident that this [decision] will be well received."

A native of Toledo, Mr. Ludeman graduated from Bowsher High School in 1971 and Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, in 1975. He and his wife, Elaine, have two children, Pete, 26, and Mary, 24.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.

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