No middle ground in voter attitudes: You’re for Carty or against him

By Betsy Hiel, Joshua Benton, and George J. Tanber
Blade Staff Writers

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Yesterday’s voter turnout may have been tepid, but there was nothing lukewarm about how people felt about the winning candidate of Toledo’s race for mayor.

Either you were for Carty Finkbeinber or you were against him.

Not much else mattered.

Staunch Finkbeiner supporter Scott Singer was fed up with all the anti-Carty sentiment he had been hearing during what he felt was a successful first term.

“He always takes unfair criticism,” Mr. Singer said as he left Christ Presbyterian Church on Sylvania Avenue around lunchtime. “I think he’s done a good job. Nobody loves this city as much as Carty.”

Dennis Ross, who backed defeated Republican Nick Wichowski, long has been a Carty-basher. He said he had little difficulty in supporting a novice candidate when the alternative was so distasteful.

“What I think about Carty Finkbeiner is unprintable and has been for 20 years,” he said as he left the polls shortly before Mr. Singer.

Mr. Ross, a Republican, admitted that life in Toledo improved during Mr. Finkbeiner’s first term. But, he said, “I’m not willing to give him credit for it. He’s been the administrator during it.”

Several Wichowski supporters leaving Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School expressed anti-Carty sentiments as vehement as Mr. Ross’s.

Walter Sesevich, a driver for a Toledo towing service, said Mr. Finkbeiner presented a poor public face to the city.

“He lets his mouth run all over his brain,” Mr. Sesevich said.

Added Sarah Penner, after pulling the Wichowski lever: “Carty is insane! There’s no way I’d vote him in. He’s an embarrassment to the city.”

Some voters had trouble pronouncing Mr. Wichowski’s name. Some, like Howard Coates, who voted at The Plaza apartments on Monroe Street, admitted that they had never heard of him.

So Mr. Coates voted for the incumbent.

“I think he’s been doing a good job,” he said.

Timika Luckett, voting at Libbey High School, agreed with Mr. Coates’s assessment of Mr. Finkbeiner.

“Carty gets a lot of things done,” she said, adding that she, like Mr. Coates, knows little of the challenger. She called Mr. Wichowski a poor campaigner.

“He didn’t get out and learn the community,” she said.

Few voters had that complaint against Mr. Finkbeiner, noted for his tireless, grass-roots campaigning style. Nor did many complain about some of Mr. Finkbeiner’s achievements in his first term.

Achievements were on Archie Fobbs’s mind as he voted at The Plaza. Of Mr. Finkbeiner, he said, “He’s the only one qualified to be mayor. He’s got more time on the job. He’s a pretty good man. He fixed my street. He cleaned my alley. I like that.”

Still, despite the general consensus that the city improved during Mr. Finkbeiner’s tenure, many voters could not support him.

Cathy McClure, a Democrat and a nurse who voted at Glendale-Feilbach school, said the mayor’s inability to get along with others in city government was the reason why Mr. Wichowski got her vote.

“I felt like I’d take a chance,” she said. “I think Carty’s a little abusive.”

Abuse was a popular subject among the anti-Carty crowd.

“He treats people terribly,” said Don Krebs, who voted at Lincolnshire Elementary School in West Toledo. “You can’t do a good job if people don’t like working for you.”

In the end, however, the mayor carried the day.

Perhaps pharmacist Rich Meinke best summed up the feeling of many of the voters who wavered for days over whom to choose.

“I supported Wichowski yesterday, and I wanted to vote for him, but he didn’t have the experience he needed. I think that a lot of people, when they get into the booth, are going to think really hard about this one. And some might change their minds.”

Apparently, many did.

Staff writers Carl Ryan, David Patch, Vanessa Winans, and Mike Jones contributed to this report.