Independents DayWritten by Jim Harpen | | email@example.com
It’s the bottom of the fifth inning and it’s Independents two, Democrats two and Republicans one.
Last week we saw another well-known, outspoken and credible candidate enter the race for mayor of the City of Toledo when city councilman D. Michael Collins threw his hat into the ring. With his entry into the race, the Independents now outnumber the Democrats and Republicans running for mayor.
Now, we’ve seen this before. Or more accurately, we’ve seen Independents running for mayor before. But those upstarts weren’t household names, and frankly, none stood an ice cube’s chance in hell of making it past the primary. Who remembers (or can even pronounce) Don Gozdowski? How about Martin O’Konski (with a name like that he should have nabbed the Polish and Irish vote)? The highest Independent vote-getter in the 2005 mayoral primary, with 111 votes, was Opal Covey, proof-positive that name recognition alone counts for something.
This willingness — no, preference — to run as an Independent is a sign that one of the promises made to us Toledoans long ago might finally be coming true. Back in 1992, the proponents of the plan to dump our city manager form of government and start electing a strong mayor told us that the high-powered and high-paying job of strong mayor would attract better candidates to run for the office. But then we got Carty, Carty, Ford and Carty, and we began to think that promise was a ruse, a ploy to pay the same people a lot more money and give them carte blanche to do whatever they damn well pleased. But 16 years later, we finally have some solid choices. Here are the party affiliations, nonaffiliations and notable achievements of the five main mayoral candidates:
n Mike Bell: Independent. Street cred: Former Toledo fire chief and Ohio fire marshal.
n Mike Collins: Independent. Street cred: Current city councilman, former police officer and president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association.
n Ben Konop: Democrat. Street cred: Current county commissioner.
n Keith Wilkowski: Democrat. Street cred: Lawyer and former Toledo law director, acting city manager, Toledo School Board member, Lucas County commissioner.
n Jim Moody : Republican. Street cred: Business owner and Realtor.
Toledo, this shunning of party support is weird. But it’s a good sort of weird.
It used to be that getting the endorsement of the Lucas County Democratic or Republican Party was a virtual prerequisite to winning an office. First, you needed the money the party could raise for your campaign. Second, you wanted the network of endorsements the party could bring to your campaign from unions and other elected officials. Third, you needed the party grunts — people who will go door to door, populate your news conferences and fundraisers, staff the phone banks and will run around town making sure your competitors aren’t trashing your yard signs. That’s a lot for a candidate to voluntarily take a pass on.
And it’s not just the mayor’s race. Of the 28 people vying for the six at-large seats on city council this year, at least 13 are saying “thanks but no thanks” to the Lucas County Dems and the Repubs.
What we’re seeing is the beginning of the change we’ve all been hoping for but couldn’t figure out how to accomplish. The type of change that gives us better choices than Carty, Carty, Ford and Carty.
On a different subject:
Michael Jackson died.
National news media: Stop the presses! Forget about Iran, Pakistan, North Korean nukes and the Cap & Trade vote in congress. Pull every correspondent off of Capitol Hill and the White House. Until further notice, we’re reporting on nothing but the death of the King of Pop.
Responsible news media: Pop star Michael Jackson, who battled drug addiction for years and has been out of the public eye since his acquittal on child sexual abuse charges in 2005, died today in Los Angeles of apparent heart failure. Jackson was 50 years old.
In other news today …
E-mail columnist Jim Harpen at firstname.lastname@example.org.