Making Toledo attractive againWritten by Joseph Pellman | | email@example.com
Every college student from the greater Toledo area is faced with the same question upon graduation: should I stay or should I go? There are several factors that play into this rather loaded question, including the job market, potential for higher earning, affordable housing, and recreational areas to get away from the monotony and have fun. Unfortunately, Toledo is lacking in many of these areas. The race for the next Toledo mayor must make the retention of its educated residents a high priority to assure growth and prosperity in the future.
Let’s face it: jobs in Toledo have been hard to find. Layoffs are a nightly headline, and the ever-expanding budget deficit leaves a sour taste in the mouth of a college graduate. Mayor Finkbeiner recently proposed a plan to increase taxes on Toledo residents who work outside the city limits to cut down this budgetary black hole, which can be roughly translated into “I’m fresh out of options.” Fortunately, Toledo City Council struck down this proposal. You cannot punish Toledoans who find employment outside the city when they had a limited chance of finding a job in its limits. You would think a seasoned politician would know this.
Despite the current antics, Toledo gets a chance to bring in a new set of ideas. The mayoral race is in full swing, with four declared candidates who offer many experiences to the table. All promise job creation and retention, which is obviously the biggest issue. But how will they draw in the youth?
Democratic mayoral hopeful Keith Wilkowski recently held a youth and young professional roundtable discussion at his downtown headquarters. I applaud this effort, but realistically we have not heard anything about this event since its press release, which leads me to believe it was just another excuse to be on the nightly news. He is trying to appeal to the youth by what appears to be a continuation of President Obama’s campaign, but after all the latest gaffes in Washington, he might reconsider this plan.
Republican Jim Moody is currently known for problems with his residency and a plan to sell equity in the Toledo Express Airport. He is a businessman, so his interests obviously lie with drawing new business into the community because he has gone through the process himself. His latest press releases have just been responses to other candidates joining the race, so hopefully we will hear more from the Moody camp in the coming weeks.
Independent candidate Mike Bell has the executive know-how to run the city and manage it efficiently, as he has been the Toledo Fire Chief and State Fire Marshall. What we do not know about him is whether he has the ability to attract new businesses to our region. He has great name recognition, which if you have ever been a candidate, makes your job a little easier. But will he engage the younger generation?
Finally, County Commissioner Ben Konop has thrown his hat into the ring. Konop is a member of the younger generation himself, so his viewpoint reflects many fresh ideas. However, I do not know how the younger generation will respond to Konop breaking his ethics pledge to remain in his current position for the full term. Perhaps if Konop resigned his current post to run for mayor, he might be taken more seriously.
There are a few things that the candidates must keep in mind. First, job creation is the foundation of every other piece of the Toledo puzzle. College grads need a place that offers them options and competitive pay. Second, businesses must be able to enter Toledo without a constant stream of red tape coming their way. Third, if a city program is not performing, fix it or drop it. Tough decisions must be made, and this requires a top-to-bottom performance review of all Toledo programs and agencies. Finally, don’t forget Toledo’s culture. We have the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Zoo, Murphy’s Jazz, and other fine establishments to give Toledo an educational outlet. We need to bring more organizations like these into our area to show potential residents that we have something to offer. We also need to convert the Dorr Street area around The University of Toledo into something that attracts youth.
Perhaps the candidates should have a debate at The University of Toledo to discuss matters of its future workforce. This important topic needs to be addressed.