Toledo Mayoral Primary 2005

This post recaps an entertaining afternoon in the summer of 2005, assuming politics can be entertaining.

One of my favorite local photos is this one that I snapped outside the Cricket West [Biggby's] Coffee Shop on August 28, 2005 after a Meet the Candidates Forum.

Keith Wilkowski is in the background on the left. Opal Covey has her ear to a phone held by a Carty Finkbeiner campaign supporter. Carty was on the other end of the phone line.

My August 28, 2005 comment about attending the Cricket West candidates forum.

By the way, the Opalmobile has its own PA system, which we were priviledged to hear loud and clear after the forum.

Carty was not at the forum. I thought he was suppose to be there. It appeared that Carty definitely had the biggest army of campaign supporters at Beaner's. After the forum, I asked one of the helpers where Carty was. He said Carty would be there at 4:15.

Each candidate had five minutes to win us over. It was warm upstairs at Beaner's. So when this political spew part of the forum ended at 3:50, most of the 80+ people present immediately went downstairs or outside to "mingle" with the candidates or to get out of Dodge. Carty did arrive at 4:15 but few people remained. That's when I left.

Anyway, shortly after the forum ended, I stood outside by Carty's Army, which was near the Beaner's entrance. One of Carty's helpers called Carty to see where he was. Opal was in her car, which was also by the door to Beaner's, and she gave the Carty Army a hard time over her PA system.

Opal broadcasted that she lost everything she owned because of Carty. Opal said Carty shut her business down in the middle of the night. She said Carty stole her mother's ring.

One Carty foot soldier couldn't take it anymore. He moved closer to Opal's car and held a Carty sign up while he talked to Carty on the phone. That only got Opal more wound up.

Opal got out of her car, walked over to the guy, and shoved her own propaganda into the face of the Carty supporter who didn't flinch. I mean the guy was rock solid. While under a barrage of point-blank accusations by Opal, the Carty supporter never changed his facial expressions, he kept his sign held high, and continued to listen to Carty over the phone.

Finally, I chimed in and said to Opal, "He's talking to Carty." The dude put the phone to Opal's ear, and Opal laughed and said, "Oh, he is."

A few minutes later, Carty arrived. Opal was back in her car blabbing over her PA system when Carty made it to Beaner's. She let loose on Carty. Carty didn't waste any time getting inside.

That's why I hung around after the forum because I thought something amusing might happen.

About the Meet the Candidates forum, prior to the event:

MEET THE CANDIDATES FOR TOLEDO MAYOR

A Toledo Mayoral Candidates' Forum is scheduled for Sunday, August 28, 2005 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Beaner's Gourmet Coffee, located in the Cricket West Plaza, 3160 Markway.

This "meet and greet" forum is unique compared to the other mayoral candidates meetings. Each of the Toledo mayoral candidates will provide a three-to-five minute introductory message to the public audience in attendance. The introductory comments are being limited to a brief autobiographical sketch, qualifications for this office, vision for the City of Toledo, and why each feels he or she should be elected. The candidates have been asked to structure their presentations in a positive manner rather than making any negative references to the other mayoral candidates.

An informal reception will be held after all mayoral candidates have completed his or her remarks. This format allows each Toledo mayoral candidate the opportunity meet face to face with voters in an informal, relaxed setting. The format also provides the voters with an opportunity to speak with the candidates one-on-one.

The mayoral candidate forum is free and open to the public. It is being sponsored by The West Toledo Herald, Beaner's Gourmet Coffee in Cricket West, and Organization Development Services - Roland Hansen, President.

My Aug 28, 2005 post that recapped what the candidates said.

Keith Wilkowski

Wilkowski spoke first, and he focused on the past versus the future. Keith's future involves bringing knowledge-based jobs to Toledo. Tech jobs. Keith said he has a plan that involves UT, the Medical University of Ohio, and something about U of M. He said we need to take advantage of the location of these research institutions.

Opal Covey

Opal was next. She said that just two hours earlier, God sat her down on the couch and told her what to say at the forum. She said God will speak to her for hours. Opal read from a printout. God's words. God or Opal said "Toledo is dead."

God said this is the second chance we get to vote for Opal to be mayor of Toledo. God said there won't be a third time. According to God, if Opal is not elected mayor, she will leave Toledo and take half of the citizens with her.

Opal pitched her downtown amusement park idea. Opal said she gave her first prophecy at age 13, and it came true a few hours later. She said she's had many prophecies come true and has handed out many miracles and healings.

Opal didn't get to finish reading God's words, because her time was up. Roland Hansen kept a strict time limit, warning the candidates when they were running out of time. With Opal, Roland had to cut her off. Roland interrupted Opal by saying "Thank you very much." I wonder if God appreciates having his words abruptly ended like that? Don't stand too close to Roland the next time a thunderstorm rolls through.

Martin Okonski

Okonski spoke third. He understands the need for non-smokers to have clean air, but he feels the smoking ban could have been written better. He said adults who smoke should be allowed to have fun too. He said his 20 years in the Navy gave him leadership experience he can use as mayor. His travels in the military allowed him to visit other cities and has given him ideas for Toledo.

He proposed a monorail system from Southwyck to downtown Toledo. He also mentioned the importance of Lake Erie West as a way to sell Toledo and attract jobs.

Rob Ludeman

I think Ludeman said that he was the only one on City Council who is also a business owner. Is that correct? Anyway, Rob said as mayor, he would conduct "business roundtables," which I guess are to hear the concerns of local businesses. Like the way Toledo "heard" the concerns of businesses in early 2003 prior to Council voting for the strict smoking ban? That sham of a Task Force.

Rob said TPS could do better. He said people move out of Toledo because of the perception about Toledo Public Schools. Perception? Meeting 4 standards out of 23 is no perception. That's cold hard facts. Rob also said he would make Toledo safer, more security, etc. Rob promoted the fact that he has been on Toledo City Council for 12 years. I guess I expected more from someone who has been on Council that long.

Don Gozdowski

Like historymike said, Gozdowski apologized to Opal for thinking or saying that Opal was a "fruitcake" and a "fanatic." Gozdowski said he has a central city ministry, and he is a Christian counselor. He said the problems of the inner city are crime and drugs. He calls himself the "Clean Slate Candidate" because he has no political experience. He admitted that he has never even attended a City Council meeting.

Gozdowski said a campground should go on the land where the current sports arena sits. He bragged about how RVs could pull into the campground. There would be boat docks and shower facilities. Gozdowski said Moms could get their hair pampered and Dad could go fishing. To that I say, what if Dad wants to get his hair pampered and Mom wants to go fishing?

I think Gozdowski suggested a pedestrian tunnel is needed to connect International Park to the other side of Main Street.

And I thought Gozdowski said he would build a tram or something to connect both sides of the Maumee River??? He also mentioned some kind of famine relief program for Toledo or for Toledo to support such a program??? I'm not sure. Maybe the heat was getting to me at that point, because I was having trouble following him.

Jack Ford

Jack spoke last. The order was chosen randomly by pulling names out of a plastic bag.

Jack said four years ago at a similar forum at Beaner's, he spoke about improving the arts, the economy, and diversity in Toledo, and Jack believes he has met those promises during his first term.

Jack said he has been mayor during a "War Economy." He said he inherited a $14 million deficit. And Jack said that unlike Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit, Toledo has not had to let people go. I heard on the news this evening that Detroit is laying off more police.

Jack said the city's budget four years ago was $233 million. Today, it's $225 million. Jack mentioned the seven supplier plants that are in Toledo or are coming to Toledo. He mentioned the small business award he received last year.

And Jack did say he was proud of the strict smoking ban he got pushed through in 2003. You know, maybe some or many, like myself, disagree with the 2003 version of the ban, but at least Jack has not waivered. He has conviction on this issue. He wanted a strict smoking ban, and he still believes it's the right thing. I can respect that. Then you have the pretenders like Ludeman and McCloskey who expressed concern over what a strict ban might do to some businesses, but they voted for it anyway.

Another success Jack mentioned was the CareNET health care program that now gives 6000 more people health care who didn't have it before.

After the speaking part of the forum ended, I sat upstairs at Beaner's for a bit as people and candidates filed past. Then I stood outside by the door. Jack Ford was the only one who walked over to me and shook my hand. He looked me in the eye and with his deep voice he said, "How's it going chief?"

It was good that Beaner's, the West Toledo Herald, and Roland put this event on for the public.


Sidenote: During my drive to Cricket West on the afternoon of Aug 28, 2005, the news on the radio gave an update about hurricane Katrina that was still well offshore at that time. The report said that the hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph. The storm made landfall the next morning with max sustained winds around 120 mph.