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Published: Tuesday, 7/14/2009

Candidates laud mayor's decision

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

With Mayor Carty Finkbeiner out of the running for a second term, most of his erstwhile opponents struck generally appreciative tones in their reactions Monday.

Republican Jim Moody congratulated Mr. Finkbeiner on his public service and said he believed Mr. Finkbeiner never planned to seek a fourth term.

"The biggest thing now is we can focus toward the future with the specific plans the candidates are putting forth for an economic recovery as well as a citywide recovery. Hopefully Mr. Finkbeiner can put his passion to help local charities grow in these tough economic times," Mr. Moody said.

Mike Bell, running as an independent, said Mr. Finkbeiner, his boss when Mr. Bell was Toledo's fire chief, was "performance-driven - sometimes there was a goal you could reach, sometimes there wasn't.

"You have to respect him as a politician. People would count him out and he would still be in," Mr. Bell said.

As mayor, he said, Mr. Finkbeiner had a good eight years in his first go-round, from 1994 to 2002, but the last four years "hasn't been so great." He blamed that on the economy.

Asked if the mayor was supporting his campaign, as alleged by mayoral candidate Ben Konop, Mr. Bell said he didn't know and had not "really talked" to Mr. Finkbeiner in more than a year. He said anyone claiming to know whom Mr. Finkbeiner was backing for mayor must have inside information.

D. Michael Collins, an independent, said Mr. Finkbeiner appeared to have made "a well-thought-out decision."

"I respect that he and his family came to the conclusion that perhaps at this point in time a transition from public life to private life is probably the wisest decision for him and I wish him the best of health and enjoyment as he makes this transition," Mr. Collins said.

He said having no incumbent in the race will focus the campaigns on the future.

"There's five major candidates. Each of us now are going to have to make our case to the voters in the clearest and [most] crisp way possible," Mr. Collins said.

Democrat Keith Wilkowski issued a brief statement thanking Mr. Finkbeiner for his service to the city.

"Today's a day for wishing him the best in the future," Mr. Wilkowski said. "No one can question Carty Finkbeiner's love and passion for Toledo, and he should be thanked for the years he has spent trying to make the city a better place. My wife Barb and I wish Carty and Amy [Finkbeiner] the very best as they return to private life."

Mr. Konop, a Democrat, also issued a brief statement, saying, "I wouldn't be running for mayor if I didn't strongly believe that Toledo is in need of bold, fresh leadership and a new beginning. That said, I also think it's important to thank Mayor Finkbeiner for his years of service to our community. It sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, but Mayor Finkbeiner has given much of his adult life to trying to make Toledo a better place."

Opal Covey, who yesterday became the first mayoral candidate to turn in signature petitions to the Lucas County Board of Elections, said she was glad Mr. Finkbeiner had chosen not to run.

"That's good. He should never have run. It's time for a change, and I'm that change," she said.

Tom Schlachter, the spokesman for the group Take Back Toledo that is seeking to remove Mr. Finkbeiner from office with a ballot issue, with less than two months remaining in his term, said one of their goals was to ensure Mr. Finkbeiner does not return to office in 2010.

"It appears that's been accomplished - with emphasis on 'appears,'•" Mr. Schlachter said. "He still has until Friday," Mr. Schlachter said.

The mayor has until Friday's deadline to change his mind and run.

He said he thought pressure from Take Back Toledo played a part in Mr. Finkbeiner's decision, and that he did not believe the mayor's claim that he was living up to a promise to his family in 2004 that he would serve only one term.

"Had there been a clamor for his re-election he would be running," Mr. Schlachter said.

Take Back Toledo, a group of small-business owners and radio station WSPD-AM 1370, turned in more than 20,000 valid signatures to put the recall question on the Nov. 3 ballot. The group claims Mr. Finkbeiner has embarrassed the city by his behavior, mismanaged the budget, and failed to spur business development.

The mayor's lawyers have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to disqualify the question, claiming a problem with the signature petitions.

Mr. Finkbeiner, 70, released a letter Sunday to The Blade declaring his intent not to seek re-election.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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