“Carty saw what I could do before I saw it,” says Ibarra, who gave up her job as Director of Work Force Development of the Associated General Contractors of Northwest Ohio (AGC) to take her new position. And while still mayor-elect, Finkbeiner appointed her to the Lucas County Improvement Corp. (LCIC) Board.
But she admits she had second thoughts about making the jump to public service. “I loved my job and what it offered me. My salary was healthy and I was living a comfortable life.
“But when I was originally asked by Arturo Quintero [who served as Executive Officer of the Mayor’s office during the Carty I era and is now a prosecutor with the City of Toledo] who told me Carty needs a Latino/a liaison for the campaign, I didn’t hesitate,” says Ibarra.
“I didn’t know Carty very well and I never thought it would go this far. Through campaigning together, I developed a strong sense of loyalty and respect for him. From April until the November election, we were together almost daily. I went door-to-door with him. I went to the festivals with him. I saw his incredible passion and genuine heartfelt feeling to want what is best for Toledo.
“I have developed a strong vision and love for Toledo in my mind. I am a romantic, I am a poet,” says Ibarra.
She says Finkbeiner has a passion for Toledo and she saw it first hand. “He’s a visionary.
He sees things where nobody else does. He has a true conviction that he believes what’s best for Toledo,” says Ibarra of the mayor.
Ibarra says she also learned from Finkbeiner on a personal level. “He taught me that you need to have a structure in life if you want to succeed. He stressed that winners don’t have excuses. That was important for me to learn as a woman, a single mother, and a Latina. He totally is a coach, and he became my coach,” Ibarra says.
“I was very thrilled when he won. But I told him at that time that I was very happy where I was working at. Bob Reinbolt, his Chief of Staff, said we are appointing you to a great position for you. I said no, but he said at least talk to the mayor about it.
“The job was as Executive Director of the Board of Community Relations (BCR), and Reinbolt told me he thought it was a great fit. I walked into the warehouse for my interview and Reinbolt told me that I wasn’t there for the BCR job, but that Carty wants me for economic development. I said no way. Theresa Gabriel coached me on how not to let Carty persuade me,” says Ibarra.
Finkbeiner told her if she wanted the BCR job, she could have it. Ibarra recalls that Finkbeiner said, “You'll be great in whatever you do, but you are an economic development person. You are enthusiastic, you have a great personality, and you are a salesperson. People who have what you have are those who have graduated from Harvard or an Ivy League college. Your parents must have really taught you something.”
That was enough to convince Ms. Ibarra.
Says Ibarra about her new job, “I love it, I breathe it, I sleep it.
“It excites me to close a deal.”
Ibarra says the mayor took her and other members of the staff into his office on the 22nd floor of Government Center at dusk one evening and pointed to the view of the city from his window. Ibarra says the mayor told her, “Look at what others have done before us. Do you want to be part of history? Do you want to give back to the community?”
Ibarra says her daily work routine is filled with intensity. “I can run a country by the time I’m done with this administration.
“I am so pleased Carty has let me be a part of the Renaissance of Toledo,” she says.
Ibarra, who was born in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, México, has a colorful past. At the age of 12 she moved with her family to Yuma, Arizona; after completing her secondary education, at the age of 18, she struck out on her own, moving to California.
From California, she moved to Colorado, Kentucky, and finally to Ohio in 2001, to attend Bowling Green State University. After her freshman year, she transferred to the University of Toledo.
She took a break from school to raise her precocious 4-year-old daughter, Paulita Flores, but intends to complete her degree. Paulita’s father, Josh Flores, is a successful teacher at Waite High School in Toledo.
Ibarra, who is bilingual, was recruited by Bill Brennan (president of the Alliance of Construction Professionals) and staff, to act as ACP’s Latino liaison, in an intensified program to recruit minorities into the trades. She was then promoted to director of Work Force Development at AGC.
She says, “Mr. Brennan supported me in my decision to join the Finkbeiner administration and I thank him for this and my experiences at ACP and AGC.”