The usual way things go in politics in Findlay is if you are an incumbent you pretty much can phone in your reelection. Findlay doesn’t change very fast if at all and as long as you don’t get in trouble you don’t have to worry about elections – especially if you are an incumbent Republican.
Mayor Tony Iriti found out that some Republicans didn’t like how he was doing his job and they decided to nominate political novice Pete Sehnert as the GOP candidate for mayor in November.
Sehnert’s campaign consisted of doing a lot of footwork to visit voters and pledging to get “Back to basics”. That was it.
While Iriti had some big ideas and changed a lot of the way Findlay government operated the GOP voters threw him out.
The local paper, The Courier, speculated that the negative vote was due to low turn out (only 4,391 Republicans voted out of a city population of 39,000), changes he made (eliminating and combining city jobs), and some PR blunders that made it look like he was throwing bones to his business supporters (like having the city buy a burned out building whose owner was a friend).
There are some conservative voters in Findlay – who vote – who HATE spending any tax money for any thing except basic city services (police, fire, water etc…).
Democrat Tom Knopf had no challenger in his primary so he will face Sehnert in the November election.
Knopf now has a campaign website which has more information on him than has ever been written in The Courier.
Knopf also has taken Iriti to task for some of the same issues that led to his defeat – spending money on projects like decorative light poles on Main St or on the environmental impact study of the Brandeman tire dump site. He also proposes to create more channels of communication with “all” members of the Findlay community.
One real issue addressed by Knopf is his proposal to use the land of Brandeman tire dump site to build low income housing – something Findlay has always lacked enough of. My sister was on a waiting list for 3 years and still wasn’t able to get into one of the few apartment complexes that allowed low income residents.
When I was a boy I lived in a trailer park on Trenton Ave. just outside the city limits. The county health department cited the owners because our well water was not drinkable – it was contaminated with sulfur – and the park’s sewer service was substandard. Being so close to Findlay, the owner petitioned to be annexed into the city so we could get city water and sewer service. The city rejected the request. Why? The official reason was the city didn’t see a good reason to approve it – after all we all had lower incomes and lived in trailers that violated city regulations on house trailers. Did you know the city of Findlay basically will not allow a trailer park to be built in the city?
Eventually my family moved into the city and today you can visit the old trailer park when you go to the new Wal-Mart. The land was sold and developed into retail space and then annexed into the city.
Even though Tom Knopf doesn’t have to worry about battling an incumbent for the office of Mayor, he will still have a big challenge against Pete Sehnert simply because Sehnert will have “Republican” next to his name on the ballot.
I think it is sad that in a city that advertises itself as highly patriotic and flies the flag almost as a bodily function would be less than advertised when it comes to the democratic process. The local media doesn’t help the matter by its lack of detailed coverage of the candidates or the issues.