Politicians respond: “If I Were Mayor”Written by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
D. Michael Collins
If I were mayor, here are a few of my thoughts on the future of the City of Toledo for 2009 and years beyond. I truly believe that Toledo and our neighboring governmental entities (cities, townships, villages, counties and the state of Michigan) have an opportunity for great academic, economic and cultural advancement, if and only if, we join together as a region and together move forward with sound and realistic goals.
Our location, within the North American continent and far more reaching, is second to none. Our region sits on 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water supply, and we are truly the crossroads of the United States and Canada. Our opportunities to adjust from an industrial/manufacturing economy to a research, development and service economy are limitless.
Toledo and our region is well-positioned to excel in the areas of alternative energy and biological/pharmaceutical development.
The future for our region is found within the very basic human concepts of respect, communication and trust. The region has been void of these basic concepts, and this condition has not allowed our communities to work as a team and support each other.
The City of Toledo has not exhibited the political ability to partner with our neighbors. Respect, communication and trust unfortunately do not exist. Our region needs and rightfully deserves a mayor of Toledo who will provide the political leadership to work for regional cooperation among local governmental entities, and who will recognize the future has dynamic opportunities if we can all work together as equals. The political solutions of the past will not carry the day for the future. We must ensure that our region will provide for our children and children’s children the opportunities to fulfill their dreams and meet the challenges of the future.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Collins has been asked to run, but would only do so if there was a groundswell of support for him to do so, the councilman told Toledo Free Press.
We look outside our windows and don’t like what we see.
Our jobs are leaving; our roads are crumbling; our governments and schools are scrounging for resources simply to keep their lights on.
It’s a bleak picture, no doubt. If there ever were a time to dream of things that never were and ask “why not?” it’s now.
I am considering a run to be Toledo’s next mayor because I see a future in which our city’s men and women lead the country in solar technology and manufacturing. I envision our children and displaced workers being able to get a quality college education for free and in return bolster our city’s work force to attract and maintain employers who offer good-paying jobs. I see a Toledo of tomorrow that not only its sons and daughters can be proud of, but a Toledo envied and admired by its neighbors.
For the past 30 years, a select group of “good ol’ boys” have dictated Toledo’s course. They have scratched each other’s backs while our jobs have disappeared and our opportunities have been lost. Now is the time that the torch must be passed to a new Toledo.
If I do run, and am privileged enough to be your mayor, I will continue fighting for you just as I have done during my time as Lucas County commissioner. I’ll keep standing up to special interests. I’ll keep proposing ways to make the most of the resources we have, and I’ll continue making sure that your voices are heard, and not let the politics of the past stand in the way of real change. We can do better; we will do better, and as mayor I will see to it that Toledo is once again a place where we can all live the American dream. Why not?
I was flattered that Toledo Free Press thought enough of me to include me in the list of potential candidates for mayor of Toledo. I have not seriously considered it much to date, but must admit that almost every day I am encouraged by people to run. I consistently reply, “Guarantee a half million dollars to my campaign fund and I will do it.”
The sad reality of any high-profile campaign is the financial cost. I have enjoyed this past year away from politics and feel it gives me a unique perspective on local politics.
The Obama campaign and victory proved that America desired “change,” and I believe the same is necessary for Toledo in 2009.
The next mayor, I believe, should have several qualities to move Toledo forward to be a great city. First, they should be conservative, especially fiscally, to deal with the short- and long-term issues facing Toledo.
Second, their ties and allegiances should not be to any political party or influential entity, but to the citizens and taxpayers. We do not need more of the same.
Third, they should come from or have a solid background rooted in the business community. The city should be run like a business, not like a political team or a sports team.
Fourth, they should surround themselves with good staff and hard workers and delegate rather than control the tempo of the work force.
Fifth, they must be honest and willing to admit their own mistakes when mistakes occur, and fix the problem quickly.
Sixth, the mayor should be a person of real faith who treats others as they would want to be treated. And last, the next mayor needs a good, solid working relationship with the city council. Citizens grow weary of constant bickering, which gets in the way of growth and improvement.
I also believe that “change” is necessary in the city council election for 2009.
Six at-large seats are available, and voters need to make good decisions to elect candidates with the same aforementioned values rather than those that have proved their position to be self-serving at best.
If a mayor and council with these ideals and values can be elected, the City of Toledo will make great strides in the next four years to make this a fine place to live and work. Issues will change with the times, but if core values are present in our elected officials, those issues can be dealt with in a positive manner.
Toledo citizens are hard working and innovative. We have a history of confronting challenges and overcoming them. We should not wait for, nor do we need, the federal government to ‘bail us out’. Everything we need to fix our problems is right here in the Toledo area. I will be a mayor who actually listens to the suggestions and recommendations of our neighbors. We simply need the right leadership to get the ball rolling.
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. As mayor, I will create a team that works hand-in-hand with the proven economic development agencies already in the region. Government cannot create jobs without taxpayers actually paying for them (i.e. fire, police, garbage). What we can do is create the environment for business to flourish and then get out of the way. As mayor we will do what is necessary to create the right environment for job growth, job stability and job creation.
Neighborhoods need stabilized. As mayor, I will lead the effort that promotes home ownership, prevent neglect and decay and promotes public safety- all without government subsidies!
Public safety will be a top priority of our team as well. We have to get an effective and properly manned police force in place. Punishment of criminals has to be designed to discourage repeat occurrences.
Yes, there is much to be done. Infrastructure, ‘brain drain’, entertainment, tourism desirability, education, public perception, population flight are all issues that too need addressed. But without a job to go to, a safe neighborhood in which come home to and a sense of security, very little else matters.
With the beginning of a new year, now is the perfect time to contemplate new strategies for our future. In 2009, voters will elect a mayor to lead them into more prosperous days. Regardless of who is elected mayor, three issues will dominate the next term: the economy, energy and education.
As we all know, the economic crisis hit Toledo particularly hard. We have lost jobs, employers and wealth. And while the economic transformation did not happen overnight, its effects have proven especially challenging for Toledo. Now is the time to seize upon an opportunity for growth by continuing to diversify our economic base and evolving our work force to meet 21st century demands. Our city’s fiscal health must also be strong.
Also, Toledo is quickly gaining the reputation as a solar energy hub. Private-sector leaders are being encouraged by the strong leadership at UT to position the region as a leader in the field. While our successes are admirable, we cannot relent in our efforts. Now, more than ever, we must intensify our work to become a world leader in alternative energy.
Finally, Toledo’s next leader must confront the city’s education obstacles and opportunities. We must continue to support UT’s efforts to promote the region and educate our work force, while at the same time facing the challenges of K-12 education. The next mayor must understand that quality schools are the prerequisite for the city’s future success.
While today’s challenges may seem insurmountable, history will prove Toledo to be a resilient city. I’m confident that our collective dedication to greatness, willingness to adapt and steadfast determination will guide us to a greater future. In order to do this, Toledo needs an experienced leader with foresight to anticipate future trends, willingness to take risks and conviction to make difficult decisions.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sarantou has not made an official decision about running for mayor, the councilman told Toledo Free Press.
I’m running for Mayor to bring jobs back to Toledo — not with empty promises, but with real plans and the best team to implement them. We can rebuild Toledo, creating good-paying construction jobs as we re-power our homes and our businesses with clean energy. And we can revitalize our manufacturing sector as we put people to work making solar panels, wind turbines and next-generation cars.
UT and local companies like First Solar and Xunlight have made our region a world leader in solar. But city government has done nothing to spur the growth of our clean energy economy and create new “green-collar” jobs. It is time for the city to get off of the sidelines and into the game.
Because economic opportunity begins with education, we must take bold action to prepare our work force for the jobs of the future and put college within reach of everyone. Our local colleges are already leading the way with the “Owens Success” program and the “University of Toledo Guarantee.” As mayor, I will work to build on their efforts and establish a “Toledo Promise” program that will enable every graduating public school student in our city to attend a public college in Ohio tuition-free.
Our city faces serious challenges and we must have a mayor who can bring people together to confront them. With bold leadership, we can rebuild and re-power Toledo to compete in the 21st century. We can be a community where industry wants to invest, where families want to live, and where young people want to stay. We can turn Toledo around.