Jul. 17—Three‑time former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner filed paperwork Friday to seek a fourth mayoral term, suddenly shaking up what was expected to be an easy re‑election campaign for incumbent Democrat Wade Kapszukiewicz.
Mr. Finkbeiner, 82, has run for mayor six times before, and this time is doing it as an independent Democrat. The county Democratic Party has already endorsed Mr. Kapszukiewicz, 48, for another four years in office.
A third candidate, Republican Jan Scotland, also filed petitions, triggering a September primary, as long as all the candidates submitted enough valid signatures.
At the Lucas County Board of Elections on Friday, Mr. Finkbeiner said he was undecided until the last minute about whether or not to run.
"It has been a tedious and thorough journey to reach the decision that I only reached within the last 24 to 48 hours ... I wanted to make certain that all of the people that I had asked, that all the factors that had come into play, were taken into consideration because it's a big decision," he said.
Concerns about violent crime and neighborhood blight are ultimately what got him into the race, he said. He described hearing from a man at a senior center in East Toledo who pushed him to run.
"He grabbed me by the coat and said, 'Finkbeiner, you owe it to Toledo to come back.' ... I walked out of there that day and it got my attention, like other things that have come my way in the last week or two," he said.
He also said he's spent the last decade continuing to work on issues such as the regional water deal and the future of the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio hospital.
"I'll do my very best to heal your neighborhoods," he said to supporters in a speech after submitting his petitions. "But you need to work with us as we clean up and build a safer, healthier Toledo, Ohio — our hometown."
Mr. Finkbeiner was the last Toledo mayor to serve two consecutive terms beginning with his election in 1993, and the first to lead the city under a "strong mayor" form of government, which gives the mayor the authority to oversee city departments without a city manager. He was elected to a third term in 2005.
Term limits prevent Toledo mayors from serving more than two consecutive terms. But there aren't any rules barring them from running again later on.
Mr. Finkbeiner has pointed to economic development projects as the foundation for his legacy and the passion he brought to leading the city. But his critics argue that Mr. Finkbeiner's cantankerous disposition has soured deals and relationships and they cite the $40 million deficit he left his last successor, Mike Bell.
In his re‑election kick-off, the incumbent mayor pitched his record on road repairs, economic development, public safety, neighborhoods, and budget management to voters.
The city has major projects ahead. Officials are devising how best to spend $180 million from the federal government to spur economic development and cover costs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz's administration is also under scrutiny for the Summit Street improvement project. Toledo City Council members urged him to sue Block Communications Inc. to recoup the $972,474 cost to relocate Buckeye Broadband's underground equipment after federal investigators interviewed at least two of them about the project. BCI, which owns Buckeye Broadband and The Blade, has asked a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge to dismiss the suit.
Being the incumbent or the endorsed candidate doesn't guarantee that anyone's a shoo‑in for office. As an unendorsed Democrat, Mr. Kapszukiewicz, the former Lucas County treasurer, defeated Mayor Paula Hicks‑Hudson, the endorsed Democrat, in 2017. Mr. Bell, an independent, replaced Mr. Finkbeiner, who didn't run for re-election in 2009.
Mr. Scotland, a 65‑year‑old who owns a State Farm Insurance agency, is the third candidate running for mayor. He's previously run for county commissioner and served a brief appointment on city council in the 1980s.
He said he's running to provide a solution to youth violence and police staffing issues.
"We've got to get the police back into our community," he said. "But also they agree that the police need some reform. So we have to have a combination that creates reform but does not degrade our police force."
The Lucas County Democratic Party reiterated its support for Mr. Kapszukiewicz on Friday.
"Mayor Kapszukiewicz has led our city through unprecedented times with a calm and competent approach that has produced results. Toledo's economic growth has won national awards, and under Wade's leadership, we are finally fixing our roads, growing the size of our police force, and investing in our youth," chairman Michael Ashford said. "These successes are due to the mayor's ability to work with anyone who wants to move Toledo forward, and he will continue that approach in his second term."
Early voting for the primary begins Aug. 17.
First Published July 16, 2021, 5:48pm