LSA freshman Ravi Perry said Mayor Jack Ford of Toledo, Ohio, is unlike most politicians.
“The way he runs his office is much like the way he runs his own home and family. His campaign message of civility and youth empowerment wasn’t just a slogan that got him into office – it’s the way he lives his everyday life,” said Perry, an intern for Ford’s campaign.
Ford spread that same message yesterday as part of a lecture in Prof. Hanes Walton’s political science course, “Blacks in the Political System.”
The first black to be elected as both the Democratic minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives and mayor of Toledo, Ford is also responsible for revitalizing Toledo’s black political community.
In terms of minority involvement in the political process, Perry said that Ford is “turning the tide” for blacks.
This point was evident in the November 2001 mayoral election in which Ford was able to gain 45 percent of black voters – the largest percentage in Toledo’s history.
In his speech, Ford gave students a glimpse into the everyday life of being mayor and described his road to the mayor’s seat as a “whirlwind campaign” replete with political mud-slinging and a miscounted primary election which, in the end, turned in his favor.
Pressured to focus his campaign on economic policies and development, Ford stood by his platform to bring improvement to social programs and youth empowerment.
“I see myself not as a politician, but a social worker,” he said.
Ford said his commitment to youth helped him earn 61 percent of the female vote, which aided him in his victory despite the disadvantage of not having endorsements from local newspapers and labor unions.
Ford began his political career in 1987 after winning a seat on the Toledo City Council. He was elected city council president in 1993, and to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1994.
An advocate of youth involvement in politics, Ford actively recruits young people to work for his office and encourages them to learn how campaigns operate.
In addition to his positions in government, Ford is the founder of a substance abuse treatment program and taught political science and ethnic studies at Ohio State and Bowling Green universities respectively.