Finkbeiner: Business leaders ‘must step forward in 2006’Written by Myndi Milliken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Carty Finkbeiner pushes his way through a crowded room at his ”Carty Gets Results” campaign headquarters — the site of a former trinket distributorship rejuvenated with a dusting of black and yellow campaign signs. For Toledo’s mayor-elect, the handshaking, back slapping and rushed public speaking schedule is like sinking back into an oversized, comfortable chair.
Finkbeiner celebrated his overwhelming victory over current mayor Jack Ford (62 percent to 38 percent) by outlining five key areas he will dedicate his efforts to before he takes office next year.
”We’ve had very meaningful meetings already with people from Southwyck Mall, Westgate and the Sports Arena,” Finkbeiner said. ”I anticipate having a meeting with the gentleman presently on board with the Marina District. We’ll visit with him to see how really committed he is to doing that.”
Filling up the office space at One SeaGate is also one of Finkbeiner’s priorities.
”Having those projects pick up steam and energy,” is important, he said, ”so in the first few months of the new year we can have agreements to sign off by myself, city council and the private sector that commit respective parties to make each of those a positive for our city rather than a negative.”
Finkbeiner said he didn’t expect this term would be ”tougher than the year I inherited the mayoralship in 1994. That was challenging also, but there was also opportunity on the horizon and there are some tough challenges ahead of us — economic security challenges — there also is hope with regard to those projects.”
Finkbeiner said business leadership is ”an absolute must.”
”The business community and civic leadership must step forward in the first quarter of 2006,” he said. ”We have a team in place that is committed to working a vision and an annual agenda with the public sector leaders that will get major projects done in this city.”
Diversifying Toledo’s economy may prove to be the biggest challenge he faces.
”We still want to be the strong manufacturing-based economy, but that must be balanced by initiatives in fields like wellness,” he said, noting he wants to find opportunities to bring more warehousing and technology companies to Northwest Ohio.
Another issue on Finkbeiner’s agenda: energy costs.
”Because we have an awful lot of challenges in the energy field — the high cost of gasoline, natural gas and electricity,” he said, ”we have to look at how to get those costs lowered, particularly electricity and natural gas. We want to look very hard at how we get competition in here for Columbia Gas and Toledo Edison.”
Finkbeiner said he would like to explore alternative energies such as ethanol, clean coal and the possibility of enticing a third refinery.
”I’d like to see some white collar, regional real estate banking or insurance company to fill out vacant space in One SeaGate or Owens-Illinois world headquarters building,” he said.
Finkbeiner said he wants voters to hold him accountable for getting projects done.
”I think [voters] were frustrated in not seeing action on those projects,” he said. ”The voters want this city to stop being regarded as an under-performing city; they want this economy to be percolating again, on an upward course.”
Finkbeiner said he will try to run his new administration as, ”a little more diplomatic me,” but he makes no apologies for the Carty of yesteryear.
”I’m sure the Carty that was mayor for eight years was the Carty that left office with 78 percent of the people saying that Toledo is going in the right direction,” he said. ”I’m not too concerned about that. Having walked this city as many times as I’ve walked it, I’m sort of like everyone’s good brother on the good days, and not so good brother on the bad days — but I’m still a brother,” he said. ”That’s the thing my political opponents forgot when they were criticizing me. People may get mad at me on a given day, but I’m still Carty; I’ve been at their doorsteps, sat at their kitchen table, talked with them while they were cutting their grass in the back yard. Whether they love me or hate me, they do like me because I love this city and I haven’t compromised my ideas about what makes a great community.”