Nov 9, 2005

Requiem For An Incumbent

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?


Anonymous said...

Jack will be back for some office. He is a good legislator who cares about his community.

Anonymous said...

Expect Jack to show up on a county ballot next time around.....

Lisa Renee said...

I don't expect him to show up on any ballots anytime soon. I think he will be involved in the community but don't expect him to run for any office in the next few years if at all.

I expected it to be a closer race despite the polls, either Jack's base did not get out and vote to support him as they have in the past or Carty got more voters out there.

Do said...

I would not expect Jack to return to politics any time soon. In light of his health issues, his overall demeanor, and the lack of enthusiasm he is able to display, I believe he got the message that we need a VERY visible figure at the helm.

I can see Jack in a position of consultant in regard to community programs or some other ancillary program forum.

As I pushed my way through the throngs of folks at Gumbos I occasionally caught a glimpse of the TV screens showing Jack's gathering. The whole picture intimated defeat - from the lack of energy of his supporters to the lack of energy in the physical decor of the room.

Conversely, Gumbos was festive, packed wall to wall, people meeting and greeting, media people 'bopping' to the beat of the music being pumped out by a DJ while they waited for results with the rest of us, and a general feel of electricity in the air.

I had to leave at 12:30, but the parking areas and the restaurant were still packed. To see that level of excitement and enthusiasm displayed in Toledo certainly gives me hope.

I think that Jack should look at this as a omen - one that is going to point him to a career he is more suited for.

When a door closes, a window opens...

Anonymous said...

As a Republican, I feel mighty darn good this morning when all the world was telling me I should feel bad.

Yeah, the Democrats held on to the governerships of NJ and VA, but here in Ohio, we set back the forces of evil and their RON amendments! Woohoo!

Taft, Noe, and the "Culture of Corruption" schtick ain't gonna be any hotter than they are now, and Ohioans still rejected liberalism. I am so proud to be a Buckeye!

historymike said...


Congratulations to the Republicans, who were very successful in a year that could have been fatal.

But "forces of evil?" That statement is disturbing to me; I have friends on both sides of the political aisle with whom I disagree, but I don't consider any of them "evil" (OK, I am putting aside genocidal extremists like some of the white supremacists).

Methinks that you have been listening to too much Limbaugh and Hannity, anonymous. Mix in some other sources other than the hard conservatives for a more balanced look at the world.

No ideology or political party has a monopoly on truth, and history's worst regimes - Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Suharto - were filled with "true believers" claiming that their politics were the only way.

Hooda Thunkit said...

JFo worked for SASI before his ill fated stints in Columbus and as our mayor, he'll probably return to something like SASI or is some other advisory capacity.

Realistically, his public service career is probably finished.

Overall I was not surprised by the results except for the lack of turnover on City Council (we tried Dave & Ernie), and Chris Myers' failure to gain a seat on thr TPS Board. I suspect that was tied to the support that passed the misconceived levy and Chris's rejection of it.

Hopefully, he will run again, maybe against Sykes.

Chris's rejection is our loss...

Anonymous said...

My "Forces of Evil" statement was tongue in cheek. That never comes across well online and I should have known better.

I have friends on the "other" side and they are good people.

I never listen to Limbaugh (his schtick rubs me wrong), nor Hannity. While I might agree with them most of the time, I don't need them to inform me or tell me how to think.

liberal_dem said...

Not only do we have Bush for 3 more years, but Carty for four!

Where's my meds??

Anyone want to get into a little 'office' pool? How many days into the Finkbeiner term will be the first 'incident' of abuse or bullying?

Any takers?

historymike said...

That's cool, anonymous - I am running on 2-1/2 hours' sleep and probably missed the irony.

Yes, I am also a bit weary of the entertainment-posing-as-discussion that goes on in some shows. Limbaugh used to be (this was late 1980s) much more of a libertarian, but now he is just a GOP shill and a really unhappy-sounding blowhard.

I used to like the show the first few years, even when I disagreed. The last decade, though, he is completely hung up on liberals as the source of all that is wrong with America.

Hannity is like a conservative pit bull on crystal meth. He is ruthless, mean, and takes talk radio to a region not far from neo-Nazis like Hal Turner. Really disappointing.

What ever happened to people like Bruce Williams, who could engage in healthy debate while respectfully disagreeing with their callers or guests? It seems like talk radio has degenerated into this realm of attack-and-kill that only serves to further divide us.

Franken is not much better; he plays the same stupid stereotyping and attack games as do the conservatives. He just happens to be funnier since he spent so many years writing and performing comedy.

I get depressed listening to people thinking they are debating the issues when their rhetoric is filled with vitriolic name-calling in lieu of serious discussion.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging (and writing in general) is that it forces the writer to think in a precise manner. If I were to call a radio show and scream obscenities or racial epithets, I would be booted off, but forgotten about in a day.

One's words stay on a blog, however, as long as the website continues to be up on a server, and the entire world has access to your thoughts.

Very sobering...

liberal_dem said...

...wouldn't it be interesting if Ford got Carty's old job on Ch. 13?

One wonders how Carty would react to weekly 'comments' on HIS administration.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Hey Mike,

I forgot to mention it earlier but that picture of JFo looks great!

Almost as if he was still alive ;-)

Anonymous said...

(GuestZero here. I can't remember my password for my usual Blogger moniker "Peahippo".)

Did anyone actually buy into Ford's disgusting lie of "quiet but effective leadership"?

I'm sure a select minority of powerful union interests bought that line of crap, but it seems that a significant slice of the voters did NOT.

Still, Ford represents a politician who comes out of the woodwork to represent a city in decline. We haven't seen the last of him, therefore. Toledoans in particular (and Ohioans in general) are now desperate enough to buy into another set of hope-based lies.

We can count on continued failures to tax corporations, for example, and that will just put pressure on grabs upon the wealth of the middle class. (Funnily enough, Ohio is consistently rated low on a "business friendly" scale, yet Ohio's revenue share from corporate taxation is equally low. Somebody's lying.)

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