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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2009

Mayoral hopeful adds advisory panel

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Keith Wilkowski ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005, finishing third. Keith Wilkowski ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005, finishing third.
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Toledo mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski yesterday said he would concentrate on rebuilding Toledo's economy with the creation of jobs - particularly high-tech jobs - and announced that he has assembled a panel of business leaders to advise him on the city's turnaround.

"We need jobs here and we need jobs now," Mr. Wilkowski said. "With Washington debating an unprecedented economic recovery plan, we must take steps now to ensure that Toledo is not left behind."

Mr. Wilkowski, a lawyer and former Lucas County commissioner who announced his candidacy Dec. 18, said the newly formed Toledo Economic Recovery Council consists of people who have "been in the trenches" and would help guide his policy decisions.

He said the city needs to be more business-friendly toward new companies and also help retain the businesses operating in Toledo.

"We need to be aggressive because other communities are competing for economic development," Mr. Wilkowski said.

His new advisory council is made up of:

•Bill Brennan, president of the Associated General Contractors of Northwest Ohio and former chairman of the Regional Growth Partnership.

•Ken Dobson, director of the Clean and Green Building Resource Laboratory at the University of Toledo.

•Mary Gregory, executive vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Northwest Ohio.

•Mike Haupricht, business manager of the Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council.

•Olivia Holden, executive director of Assets Toledo, a nonprofit organization serving small business owners with self-employment training and support.

•Hernan Vasquez, president of Mandell-Vasquez Inc. and a former UT trustee.

•Mary Jo Waldock, special assistant to UT President Lloyd Jacobs for economic development.

•David Wallace, past president of Benchmark Engineering and a former city of Toledo assistant chief operating officer under Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

Mr. Wilkowski, 53, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005, coming in third behind then-Mayor Jack Ford and Mr. Finkbeiner, also Democrats.

Mayor Finkbeiner has not announced if he will run again. The mayor could not be reached for comment.

A political action committee, Take Back Toledo, which seeks to put a referendum on the Sept. 15, 2009, ballot to force Mr. Finkbeiner's recall, has indicated it wants to support a candidate for mayor.

Other potential candidates who have said they are considering their options are City Council President Mark Sobczak, former Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell, and Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop - all Democrats - and Republican City Councilman George Sarantou.

Republican real estate investor Jim Moody also has said he intends to run for mayor.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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