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Published: Tuesday, 9/15/2009

Cities of Toledo and Oregon to narrow slate for mayors' jobs

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo's 2009 mayoral primary winds to a close today when voters will narrow their selections for mayor in Toledo and Oregon and in Toledo's City Council race.

At the same time, Toledo voters will decide whether to reduce council from 12 to nine members, and whether to transfer money from the city's capital improvements funds to police and fire operations.

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

The top two vote-getters for mayor will advance to the ballot in the Nov. 3 general election, and in Toledo, the top 12 vote-getters for council will advance to the general election — unless Issue 2 passes.

In Toledo, a new chief executive is certain: Longtime city politician and three-time mayor Carty Finkbeiner is not seeking re-election. The candidates on today's ballot are independents Mike Bell, D. Michael Collins, and Opal Covey; Democrats Ben Konop and Keith Wilkowski, and Republican Jim Moody.

Mr. Bell, the retired city fire chief and former state fire mar-shal, yesterday attended a meeting of the Downtown Coaches Association and planned to end the day at a meeting of business people in Maumee.

“I feel great. I put it all on the line from day one when I left the marshal's office, that I've done everything I could do. It's all in the voter's hands now,” Mr. Bell said.

Mr. Collins, a city councilman and retired Toledo police officer, stood on the Anthony Wayne Trail in the morning to wave to commuters, and then spent part of the day in constituent work.

“I'm hoping to finish either one or two. I feel if that can happen, that I'll give the voters a better understanding at the end of the six-week period before the election as to what my vision is,” Mr. Collins said. “I'm hoping for a bigger turnout than people are saying.”

Mr. Konop waved and shook hands through open car windows at a shift change at the Jeep Assembly Plant yesterday afternoon and attended a reception at the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women at the University of Toledo.

In the morning, Mr. Konop performed a fortune-teller act in a live talent contest on the Andrew Z show on WVKS-FM (92.5-KISS-FM), but lost to Mr. Wilkowski, who played “This Land Is Your Land” on the harmonica.

Mr. Konop joked that he planned to seek a recount of the radio contest, but was serious about his chances in the election.

“I hear again and again people want new ideas, a fresh start. When you compare myself to the rest of the candidates, I do represent the best hope for a fresh start for Toledo and that's, I think, working in my favor and that's why I think I'm going to be victorious,” Mr. Konop said.

Mr. Wilkowski made phone calls to try to win over undecided voters and to supportive voters to make sure they vote today. He attended the Eberly Center event and planned to knock on doors in the Regina Coeli Church area of West Toledo and to attend a Block Watch meeting.

“I feel good about what we need to do. I'm cautiously optimistic but we're continuing to work until the last minute. I don't take anything for granted,” Mr. Wilkowski said.

Mr. Moody said he campaigned at the Early Voting Center, knocked on doors, and then showed his sign on street corners in West Toledo, downtown, and Point Place.

He said he and his volunteers have made more than 3,000 personal phone calls in the last three days, and he's used up three tanks of gas in two days.

“I feel very good. There is nothing more in my opinion that I could have done. We've gone from zero name recognition to the fact that, in my heart, I'll be in the top two,” Mr. Moody said.

Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook said they have a “dawn patrol” heading out before sunrise to post signs at Toledo's 120 polling places, and the party has been making phone calls.

“We're connecting with those voters and persuading them and mobilizing them to get to the polls for Jim Moody and the whole council slate,” Mr. Stainbrook said.

The Democratic Party didn't endorse in Toledo's primary, but is opposing passage of Issue 2.

Party chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said the party would follow the election returns tonight at Michael's Bar & Grill on Monroe Street downtown, the same place Mr. Wilkowski's backers are planning to celebrate what they hope will be a victory.

The Oregon ballot features endorsed incumbent Democrat Mayor Marge Brown and challengers Mike Seferian, an independent, and Democrat Marvin Dabish.

The candidates for Toledo City Council include:

• Incumbents Phillip Copeland, Joe McNamara, and Steven Steel, who are Democrats, and Republican George Sarantou.

The following challengers, with their political registrations, are:

• Democrats Terry Biel, Joseph Carter, Adam Martinez, Terry Shankland, and Polly Taylor-Gerken;

• Republicans Mark Clark, Jeff Cromwell, Ty Daniels, Rob Ludeman, Tricia Lyons, Hans Schnapp, Constantine Stamos, and Jeremiah Van Buren;

• Independents John Adams, Jr., Kevin Milliken, Steven Sulewski, Stephen Ward, David Washington, and Michael Watson.

Toledo voters will decide two questions on the ballot:

• Issue 1, if approved, would allow the mayor and city council to change the way Toledo's 0.75 percent renewable income tax is allocated. Currently, one-third of the tax goes to capital improvements, and the other two-thirds goes to the general fund, which includes police and fire.

If approved, for the remainder of 2009, all of the money would go toward the general fund and police and fire operations. For 2010, 2011, and 2012, the allocation would be half to police and fire, one-third to the general fund, and one-sixth to capital improvements.

• Issue 2, if approved, would reduce the size of city council from 12 to 9 members, and would phase out the at-large seats.

It would have an immediate effect on the ballot by reducing the number of at-large candidates advancing to the Nov. 3 ballot to six. Those six would serve two-year terms while three “super-districts” are created, and then a new election would be held. The result would be a council of six district and three super-district councilmen rather than the present six district and six at-large councilmen.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.comor 419-724-6058.



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