Local businessman Joe Ludwig just placed a stinging billboard advertisement attacking a career politician. Ludwig is challenging longtime incumbent Councilman David Franczyk, who has overseen the collapse of his Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood and the implosion of the Eastside’s Polish community.
The billboard asks the question, “Are you really proud of this?” An image of the long defunct Central Terminal and another of the city’s dilapidated housing stock frame the billboard, which can be seen along Interstate 190 entering downtown.
Franczyk’s prospects for reelection look bleak. Even his longtime supporters are refusing to back him. They attribute the collapse of their neighborhood to his leadership failures and character flaws.
Ludwig is backed by Grassroots, the once powerful Eastside political club that has since grown arthritic and stale. He is a successful businessman who has made his money selling ice, I’m told. It’s presumed that he can finance a substantial campaign.
Observers say that the bigger problem for Franczyk is the city’s popular Housing Commissioner, Joe Mascia, who intends to run an aggressive campaign for the Fillmore district seat. Mascia’s activist style and anti-establishment posture has endeared him to voters across party lines.
“I saw the Mayor the other day and he said, ‘Joe, you’re spitting fire.’ I told him, ‘It’s nothing personal, but when you screw the little guy, I’m going to say something,'” recalls Mascia. “I was reaching out and trying to get a meeting with him for months and months to discuss BMHA mismanagement.”
“What does he expect me to do, sit down and shut up?” he asks. “So we’re going to meet next week and we’ll see how it goes.”
The Mayor has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race.