Officials react to Finkbeiner announcementWritten by Mark Hensch | | firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: July 13 interview with Finkbeiner posted here.
UPDATE: Brian Wilson, WSPD program director and a leader of the Take Back Toledo recall effort, said on July 13 the group could pull the mayoral recall issue off the November ballot.
“I suppose anything is possible in that regard,” he said, “although I would vote against it until waaaaay past the 7/17 deadline.”
Wilson said the group is meeting July 14, but he does not know if dropping the recall will be broached.
Officials react to Finkbeiner announcement
Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced in a letter released July 13 he will not pursue a fourth term during fall’s election. His decision quells rampant rumors of another campaign four days away from a 4 p.m. July 17 filing deadline with the Lucas County Board of Elections.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Toledo eight years as a Councilman, two years as Vice Mayor and twelve years as your Mayor,” Finkbeiner said in the letter. “During each of these 22 years, I have felt both blessed and grateful to have such an opportunity to serve my fellow citizens. I shall not run for Mayor this fall.”
Finkbeiner said in the letter his choice stems from a vow he made to his family in December 2004. Back then, he said in the letter, he was debating a third Mayoral term despite misgivings from relatives. A promise was made, Finkbeiner said in the letter, setting a potential third term as his last.
“When I was considering running for Mayor during the Christmas holidays of 2004, my daughters, their husbands and my wife all questioned my motivation,” he said in the letter. “In March of that same year I had quadruple heart by-pass surgery. I felt terrific, but my family wanted no part of another Mayoral term. We reached no conclusion then in December 2004, but I made one promise to them – “If I run – and win, I’ll serve but only one term.”
Announcing his candidacy June 30, 2005, Finkbeiner would later defeat incumbent Jack Ford and win reelection Nov. 8, 2005. As his current term ends, he said in the letter, pressure has built for another run despite the pledge he made with his wife Amy and three children.
“I have been asked to reconsider this promise,” he said in the letter of his three term vow. “But none of these persons are family members.”
Love for Toledo
Democrat City Council candidate Terry Biel said he admires Finkbeiner’s respect for his family’s wishes. After three terms, he added, Finkbeiner has left a lasting impression on Toledoans.
“I have great respect for his decision to prioritize for family,” Biel said. “Mayor Finkbeiner will be known for generations amongst Toledoans. “Be it his antics or his indomitable drive for the city no one will forget Carty anytime soon. No one can question his love for the city of Toledo.”
Finkbeiner courted equal parts criticism and acclaim during his years of service.
His letter listed 30 achievements during his accumulated tenure, among them downtown Toledo’s Fifth/Third Field, Owens Corning World Headquarters and Jeep plants.
Conversely, he was caught on video breaking up a June 16 Highland Park fight by calling a young man “fatso” and has recently drawn fire for his parking ticket and police layoff decisions. During his third term, he drew criticism for blocking a scheduled Marines training session and has been a source of controversy for his comments, for blocking a WSPD reporter from a news conference and for twice being caught locking his dog Scout in a car during summer. He is the subject of a “Take Back Toledo” recall that will be on the November ballot.
Finkbeiner’s announcement comes despite efforts aiming at removal of the mayor from office via recall in November. Take Back Toledo, a group of area businessmen, collected signatures validating the recall process with the Lucas County Board of Elections April 15, 2009.
Independent Council candidate Stephen Ward said Finkbeiner’s decision could possibly derail recall efforts. Despite this, he said, he personally expected a Finkbeiner recall had he not announced an end of his mayoral service.
“It cannot be disputed Mayor Finkbeiner has been the No. 1 cheerleader for Toledo,” Ward said in an e-mail statement. “It also cannot be disputed Mayor Finkbeiner’s administration has made some decisions that are not in the best interest of the citizens of Toledo. If he is not recalled it is because he just announced he will not run again and some people might see it as pointless as he is going to be out of office anyways. Unfortunately I do not think his legacy will be a good one.”
Finkbeiner addressed supporters and detractors alike in the letter.
“To my friends, supporters, and citizens/voters, a very heartfelt ‘thank you,” Finkbeiner said of his supporters in the letter. “Over 35 years, we have been spiritually and mentally ‘joined at the hip’ and your faith has been deeply appreciated.”
“I care nothing about clamors, Sir,” Finkbeiner continued in his letter, quoting President Abraham Lincoln to address his critics. “I do precisely what I think is right.”
Warts and all
Independent mayoral candidate Mike Bell said the best way of judging Finkbeiner’s legacy is by looking at his actions, warts and all. Overall, he said, he believes history will favor the Finkbeiner administration.
“He has had a mixture of really great things and not so great things,” Bell said. “In being fair to him you will find a mixture of both. His first couple terms were successful and his last one has been a little more controversial. History is kind to people and the city did move forward during his first two terms in office.”
“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,” said Democratic mayoral candidate Ben Konop in an e-mailed statement. “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 trying to make Toledo a better place.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski said in an e-mailed statement none of Finkbeiner’s critics should doubt the mayor’s dedication to Toledo. He said he is grateful for the effort Finkbeiner had invested in the city.
“No one can question Carty Finkbeiner’s love and passion for Toledo, and he should be thanked for the many years he has spent trying to make the city a better place,” Wilkowski said. “My wife Barb and I wish Carty and Amy the very best as they return to private life.”
Republican mayoral candidate Jim Moody said he praises the mayor for his over two decades of public service. He said he expected Finkbeiner to enjoy private life while furthering his love for Toledo.
“I think it was an appropriate decision for Mr. Finkbeiner in regards to some of the policy decisions he has made lately and the overall public mood,” Moody said of Finkbeiner’s announcement. “Time is forgiving and overall people will say no man loved this city more than Carty Finkbeiner.”
Independent mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins said Finkbeiner’s exit drastically changed the race between his possible successors. He said he wished Finkbeiner well as he leaves the office he has possessed for so long.
“The Mayor has served the community to the best of his ability and I wish him nothing but the best as he transitions from public life to private life,” Collins said. “I think this is going to make a huge difference in the campaign between the five major mayoral candidates. With no incumbency each of us are on an equal playing field. I think it will bring clarity to the campaign.”