Rob Ludeman, an 11-year City Council veteran, said last night that he is running for mayor of Toledo.
"I have been extremely disappointed in what I feel is the downward spiral of the city," Mr. Ludeman, a Republican, said. "It's a lack of leadership."
"I think that given the personalities and players who are in there now, I'm the only person who can turn that around," he said.
The South Toledoan has scheduled a news conference for 5:30 p.m. today at the Walbridge Park shelter house to kick off his campaign.
He'll take on incumbent Democratic Mayor Jack Ford, and possibly former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, also a Democrat. Mr. Finkbeiner has said he is trying to decide whether to run.
Mr. Ludeman, 52, a Realtor who has been a council member since 1994, represents parts of South and West Toledo in District 2.
He said he has been urged frequently to run for mayor.
"Since we started exploring this issue back in August, the general consensus is Jack hasn't done anything for the first 3 1/2 years," Mr. Ludeman said.
He predicted that Mr. Ford will start unleashing a barrage of economic development announcements - "announcements that should have taken place 3 1/2 years ago."
He said he would work with the business community "to put a positive face on Toledo and all the assets that we have."
"Where we are, geographically, this town should be thriving," he said, adding that "the two top issues are jobs and security."
He said he would have a $200,000 fund-raising goal.
"We'll run a fiscally conservative campaign, which is the way the city should be run," Mr. Ludeman said.
In 2000, he ran for Lucas County commissioner against Democrat Bill Copeland, falling short by 49-51 percent.
Mr. Ludeman said last night that he thinks he can avoid a repeat of that defeat, saying that election was affected by the high voter turnout of the presidential election.
Mr. Finkbeiner last night praised Mr. Ludeman but didn't shed any new light on his plans for this year. He recalled that he worked with Mr. Ludeman for eight years while he was mayor.
"I have tremendous respect for his integrity. He is a thoughtful and good man, and I'm sure he will address the issues he thinks are important to the city of Toledo," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
Mr. Ford could not be reached for comment last night.
However, James Ruvolo, the coordinator of Mr. Ford's campaign, said the mayor will stick to his own message and timing for now.
"We're not going to worry too much who our opponents are until we get into a vigorous debate on the issues, and we're looking forward to that," Mr. Ruvolo said.
He said Mr. Ford has a record of creating jobs in a tough economy.
Mr. Ludeman has evolved into a critic of Mr. Ford after several years of trying to work with the mayor to find a new developer for the Southwyck Shopping Center.
He opposed the mayor's initiative this year to open a police tow lot, saying it will take police officers off the street - an assertion the mayor and police Chief Mike Navarre dispute. It also will force private tow operators to lay off workers, Mr. Ludeman said.
He has criticized the mayor's handling of the Toledo Edison steam plant project downtown, saying Mr. Ford awarded the $20 million project to developers David Ball and Jim Jackson without giving a rival developer a fair chance to compete.
Sally Perz, the Lucas County Republican Party chairman, said Mr. Ludeman has the party's full support. "We're looking forward to a tough race and his win," Mrs. Perz said.
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 grown children, Pete and Mary.
The filing deadline for mayor is July 15, and the candidates face their first test in a primary on Sept. 13. The two top vote-getters go on to the general election Nov. 8.
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