By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
… We have not finished the journey toward liberty and justice, but surely, we have come a long way. – David Dinkins
Toledo voters made a thunderous statement in the primary election last week.
Incumbent mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz reaped 6,590 votes against former mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s 3,323, winning all 206 distinct Toledo precincts in the lopsided mayoral primary. More significantly, Kapszukiewicz bested Carty by 27 percent citywide and double-digits among African Americans.
Finkbeiner’s team was entirely caught off guard by the outcome, confidently expecting to win or lose by no more than one or two points. But, instead, the disappointing results left the former mayor “very despondent,” according to the word on the street.
What should we expect in the general election?
Current polling shows Kapszukiewicz with a 37-point lead over Carty among likely voters in the general as most of the Scotland supporters are expected to migrate over to Wade. However, despite his significant lead, the incumbent appears to have still some anxiety and worries about the general election outcome.
Despite the controversial firing of several black administrators and resulting civil rights suits during his terms as mayor, Finkbeiner generated diehard support from a segment of the black community by including homegrown African-American talent in his administration, including Theresa M. Gabriel and Jimmy Gaines. Kapszukiewicz, to the contrary, has been less effective in including those visible in the local Black church and community for high-profile leadership roles.
Yet, Kapszukiewicz’s strength is a campaign war chest of three to four hundred thousand dollars. So, on top of Wade’s sizable lead in the polls, expect the incumbent to blitz his opponent with an unbelievable media wave in the next six weeks.
On the other hand, the path forward for Carty appears limited to a complete blistering attack on Wade, which he lacks coffers to communicate beyond press conferences. The media, though, seems to have tuned Carty out since the accusation of his attempt to hijack credit for the City’s central-city YMCA expansion project. The Kapszukiewicz administration, presenting internal agendas and meeting notes, claimed that it had a pre-existing deal and was waiting for the Solheim Cup to end to announce.
Certainly, Carty can criticize the Kapszukiewicz administration for its Summit Street debacle. The Finkbeiner campaign can also pursue a police endorsement by exploiting Wade’s weakness of high violent crime rates.
How each candidate performs in the many upcoming candidate forums will be crucial to their success.
And The Beat Goes On: Toledo City Council At-Large
In 1997, the primary election in the City of Toledo had 19 city council candidates. It included one woman who finished in the top six. In 2021, the top five seats include four women and an LGBQT male who has promoted a “Make Toledo Gay Again” theme.
In 25 years, Toledo’s political makeup has switched dramatically, having become more diverse according to gender, sexual orientation and race than what it has always been in the past.
Traditionally, the candidates that finish in the top six seats of the primary, 90 percent of the time, become winners in the general election, including low turnout primaries.
That history bodes well for sitting councilmembers Moline, Komives, McPherson, and Whitman. Former Councilman George Sarantou, community leader Harvey Savage, Jr., and political newcomer Michele Grim can also be ultimate winners in what Toledo’s leadership will look like approaching 2022.
Savage, Jr. finished in seventh place but had great sign placement. However, to crack the top six in the general election, he must also be prepared to drop $15-20,000 in media buys.
Sarantou must overcome his rub with the Lucas County Republicans, who are enraged that he ran as an independent and part of Finkbeiner’s slate rather than as a Republican. I don’t expect the Republican Party to raise funds or write checks for Sarantou.
Whitman and McPherson should be safe. However, the first-time campaigners will still need to raise and spend money to hold on to their seats. The Democratic Party has done a great job of coordinating campaigns, and the two appointed councilwomen have been campaigning as a part of the Kapszukiewicz slate. Whitman and McPherson can also secure their spots by taking advantage of Party resources, including campaign pointers and help with messaging.
Overall, the entire primary field ran good campaigns around inclusion with positive messages on concerns about poverty, violence, and taking care of Toledoans’ needs.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org