Left: Toledo mayor Jack Ford; photos by historymike
The Ford camp set up shop at UAW Local 12 hall on Ashland Avenue. There were but a handful of campaign workers in the facility at 6:00.
For an election night headquarters, the room was surprisingly free of campaign signs or decorations; one could speculate that this represented Jack Ford’s low key demeanor, or perhaps the polls showing the mayor facing a substantial deficit led the campaign staff to decide against an ostentatious display of signage.
This was the night that Jack Ford, Toledo’s first African American mayor, went down to defeat to his predecessor Carty Finkbeiner.
The crowd began to pile in at 7:30 after the polls closed. As many as 500 Ford supporters packed the hall waiting for the results to come in.
The demeanor of the campaign staff in the hall seemed neither upbeat nor downcast. “Weary” might be an appropriate word to describe the collective mood, as would “resigned.” Nonetheless, the event was as much for the people who believed in Jack, worked for the campaign, and held out hope until the last possible moment that their candidate could pull out a miracle.
Mary Chris Skeldon, the mayor’s public information officer, had not yet heard any exit poll numbers, but remained hopeful that Ford could win.
“Jack should get a chance to finish everything that he started,” she said. “The projects we have begun are just now coming to fruition.”
Skeldon talked about the difficulties faced by a candidate who must simultaneously run both a political campaign and the administration of a major metropolitan city.
“Whatever the outcome of the election tonight, I am sure the mayor will look forward to taking a day off when this is over,” she said. “Jack has been working seven days a week for months, and this has been a year in which any mayor would have been putting in a lot of hours.”
As results began to slowly trickle in, local politicians expressed frustration with the speed of returns. Pete Gerken called the technical problems “disappointing,” and vowed to investigate what caused the delays.
Former county commissioner Sandy Isenberg
Sandy Isenberg addressed the crowd about 10 PM.
“We have had paper ballots that came in quicker than these new computers,” she quipped. “As soon as we know some results we’ll let everyone know.”
The crowd reached its liveliest at 11 PM, when Jack Ford strode to the podium to a chorus of “Four more years!”
“We were upstairs trying to wait for the returns to come in, but you were raising so much hell that we decided to come down,” he said to the crowd. “All I can say right now is that we have not had enough returns come in to have any definite trends to report. There have been some glitches at the board, and they have only been able to give us raw numbers.”
(historymike left Local 12 about 12:15 AM and went home to watch the rest of the results on TV).
By 1 AM, though, Jack Ford conceded the race. A remarkable political career suffered its most significant setback. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to Ford, he has quietly distinguished himself at the local and state level as a formidable politician.
Is this, however, the last we will see of Jack Ford, or will he seek political office in the future?