“We think it’s important to have a man of Keith’s ability and experience,” said Baldemar Velásquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). “We think he’s the best option to provide leadership for the problems the city is facing.”
Wilkowski, in thanking the Latino leadership for their support, noted that he was looking forward to working with the leaders to “revitalize our economy, strengthen our neighborhoods and create greater opportunity for all Toledoans.”
He said that his campaign’s commitment was to ensure “that Toledo is an open place, is a welcoming place.”
“Today the issue that faces us all is jobs,” said Wilkowski. “I am so proud to have the backing of those standing behind me. Everyone standing here has played a role in the community. My administration will be as diverse as the City of Toledo is.”
Several other candidates, all Democrats, were among those gathered to show their support for Wilkowski, including City Council candidate Adam Martínez and Board of Education President Bob Vásquez who is running to retain his seat.
“As a new candidate, let me say how supportive Mr. Wilkowski was to my campaign when no one else was,” said Martínez. “I support him 110 percent.”
“Keith and I agree that the Toledo Board of Education is an important part of the city and an important part of the economy,” said Vásquez. “Keith and I have come to agreement on a number of things and I am very pleased to be part of his campaign.”
When asked about the percentage of Latino voters in Toledo, Virginia Ortega, former director of the Aurora González Community Center and a long-time civil rights advocate, responded that such numbers were unimportant.
“We have enough voters to make the difference in this campaign and in Adam’s [Martínez] campaign,” said Ortega. “The percentage is irrelevant. Keith Wilkowski has demonstrated a history of inclusiveness. We want to be represented throughout [the administration] and Keith has demonstrated that commitment.”
Both Keith Wilkowski and his opponent, independent Mike Bell, participated in a candidate’s forum earlier in the week presented by the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Gary Johnson, president of the chamber, spoke of Wilkowski’s commitment to small businesses as evidenced by that discussion.
“Many times the small business owner is wearing many hats and doesn’t have time or the resources to jump through all the hoops and regulations at city hall,” said Johnson. “Keith has demonstrated that he understands the need to simplify government red tape for small businesses and that is why we are supporting him.”
The Latino community leaders supporting Wilkowski include: Velásquez; Vásquez; Ortega; Johnson; Martínez; Lucas County Auditor Anita López; President of the Civilian Police Review Board Lisa Canales; Latino Democratic Caucus members Marisol Ibarra and Olga Martinez; attorneys Angelita Cruz-Bridges, Arturo Quintero and Lourdes Santiago; Sofia Quintero Family Center Director Joe Balderas and Hernán Vásquez, president of Mandell-Vasquez, Inc.
Editor’s Note: Toledo Mayor Candidate Mike Bell has also received endorsements from Latino supporters. On Oct. 17, 2009, there will be a roundtable discussion/interviews relative to candidates Wilkowski and Bell at the Sophia Quintero Arts and Cultural Center, 1225 Broadway Street, Toledo, hosted by the Latino Association of Ohio, Toledo Chapter.