Monday, September 03, 2001

Mayoral long-shot hones message

Candidate runs no-nonsense race

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bill Brodberger's campaign for mayor of Cincinnati would seem to be an uphill battle. He lacks a party endorsement, major financial backing or significant name recognition.

        Yet one thing he does not lack is self-confidence.

        “Do you want to know who my three heroes are? I'm going to tell you,” he said as he lit a cigarette outside his Roselawn office. “Patton, Reagan and me.”

        He's a law-and-order candidate — the owner of a private security company — but he has a misdemeanor criminal record.

        He's a registered Republican but does not have the endorsement of his party.

        Nonetheless, he said he provides an alternative to the two main candidates, whom he describes as a choice between “Democrat and liberal Democrat.”

        The Democrats are Mayor Charlie Luken and former news anchor Courtis Fuller, a registered Democrat who is running with the endorsement of the Charter Committee.

        Another independent candidate, Michael Riley, is also on the Sept. 11 primary ballot, which will narrow the field to two candidates.

        But Mr. Brodberger, 39, likes to mention that he was the first candidate to file petitions for the office in May. And he's been running since February, collecting petitions, speaking to small groups and making the rounds of the city's 51 community councils.

        All that time has allowed him to refine his message. His stump speech is mercifully short:

        “I'm Bill Brodberger. I'm the independent candidate, and I'm working hard to become Cincinnati's next mayor. I believe people feel better about themselves when they have a job. That's what I'm all about: Jobs, Progress, Safety.”

        And that's it. Even when he opens it to questions, he prefers short, no-nonsense, to-the-point answers.

        At a recent candidates' forum in Westwood, he was asked how he would have handled the riots differently.

        “There will be no riots with Brodberger as strong mayor,” he said. “Next question.”

        Another voter asked what he would do to support the police. “Morale is at an all-time low on the force. I've never seen it so bad,” he said. “All I can tell them is, "Hold on, I'm coming.'”

        He's anti-tax and anti-big government, saying one of his top priorities will be to give City Council members something to do other than think up new laws.

        For example, he called the racial profiling ordinance passed by City Council — designed to monitor each police stop by requiring officers to record the age and race of almost everyone they come in contact with — “political correctness at its worst.”

        But even with his outspoken, answer-any-question attitude, he refuses to discuss his opponents, or to analyze the events of April.

        “I'm not going to talk about history. If you want to know about history, there's a library down the street.”

Self-made man

               Mr. Brodberger, who lives in Madisonville, is more than happy to discuss his own history — the story, he said, of a self-made man.

        He said he became a private investigator 18 years ago “because I thought it sounded cool.”

        Since then, he said, he's become a corporate turnaround specialist, taking small- to mid-sized companies and getting them out of trouble without layoffs.

        Saying the information is confi dential, he declines to name any of his turnaround success stories — except one.

        After turning around Corps Security, a private investigation and guard service, he bought the company.

        “I do background checks for a living,” he said. “I knew my background check was going to garner a certain amount of notoriety.”

        Mr. Brodberger said he's been honest about his past. When he was 18, he said, he was with a guy who stole a set of truck tires.

        “I should not have been there. I should have stopped him. I didn't,” he said.

        Then, a college roommate failed to return a video, resulting in another misdemeanor theft conviction, he said.

        Then there are three drunken driving convictions, the most recent in 1999.

        He served 10 days in a halfway house and his license was suspended for five years, but Mr. Brodberger had the suspension lifted after being diagnosed with a liver disorder. He said he no longer drinks.

        Mr. Brodberger said he's found most voters are willing to forgive him. After all, he said, his clients trust him with the security of their businesses.

        And he offered to do background checks on any of the other candidates for mayor (at a cost of $35 apiece).

        Mr. Brodberger said he “guarantees” a win in September, and already has a city manager in mind — though he declined to name her. He remains undaunted by the prospect of taking on his bigger-name foes.

        “When Roxanne Qualls first got elected mayor, my first reaction was, "Roxanne who?'” he said.


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