NBC24 Exclusive: Mayoral candidates, old friends

Keith Wilkowski and Mike Bell in their high school photos from Woodward High School

In an NBC24 exclusive, t wo Toledo mayoral candidates cross paths on the campaign trail. Yet, what you may not know is that Keith Wilkowski and Mike Bell's paths have been crossing all their lives.

NBC24's Lou Hebert brings us this tale of two politicians who are actually working together.

Keith Wilkowski, was the studious type, who performed in school dramas and played the violin and who aspired to be a veterinarian only later to become a lawyer and politician.

Mike Bell, on the other hand, was the high spirited, consummate athlete, who played lots of sports and tuba in the band, leaving high school with a football scholarship and a dream. Later to become Toledo's Fire Chief and State Fire Marshal.

Their shared desire to serve the public, both men now credit to growing up in a strong neighborhood.

"Without strong neighborhoods, we won't be a strong city. That's pretty clear. I think we're blessed to have had the experience of coming from such a strong neighborhood and a neighborhood that can be strong again," said Wilkowski.

"These areas are great areas, but people a lot of the time took initiative themselves. One thing is certain is that people took care of their neighborhood, meaning if there was trash or whatever, they made sure their yards were immaculate and it wasn't about whether you had a more expensive house,but whatever they had, they took care of it," said Bell.

It didn't take long for both to find something that needed cleaning up in this park... and together... they did so. A rare sight of cooperation among competitors in this day of partisan rancor and rivalry. And rarer still, is the mutual respect these soon to be opponents have for each other and the common path they have walked

"Right over there in that high school is where it all jelled...he was class president," said Bell.

"No I wasn' was some office but not class president," said Wilkowski.

The two competitors shared a laugh.