Endorsement: Wilkowski for mayorWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Early this year, when he was the only declared candidate for mayor of Toledo, I met with Keith Wilkowski for a talk on politics, the economy and Toledo’s future.
Wilkowski is a deliberate thinker, one who seems to process complete thoughts before speaking — “uh” and “um” are not among his linguistic handicaps.
After our discussion — which touched on communication and transparency in local government, economic development through the Meta-Plan and the importance of having a mayor who can cooperate with local media, but not bow before it — I stood up to exit, offered a hand to shake, and said what I always say after such meetings, which are educational and not intended for immediate public discourse:
“I know, everything we said here was off the record.”
Wilkowski, with no more hesitation than he displayed when ordering lunch, responded, “Nothing I said here today has to be off the record. Everything we talked about I would say for publication, so feel free to use it.”
In nearly 20 years of covering politics and politicians, I have never before been told that after a conversation was completed. That moment has stuck with me as I have watched Wilkowski campaign, and it is one factor in my belief he would be your best choice for mayor of Toledo.
He understands Toledo’s financial problem: “It’s not that Toledoans aren’t paying enough taxes, it’s that there aren’t enough Toledoans to pay taxes,” he said.
Wilkowski has endorsements from many established political and business leaders, and while some of his opponents see that as a detriment, I have a different take on it. Yes, Toledo needs a break from politics as usual, but how does a radical, cold turkey fracture with the establishment move the city forward? Wilkowski represents a bridge from the failed ways of the past to a hopeful vision for the future, a natural transition from the arc of descent we are riding to a leveling period and then, hopefully, a progressively upward slope.
At our Sept. 8 debate, I asked Wilkowski to combat the perception he has “Al Gore Syndrome,” which means he is experienced and intelligent in the ways of navigating government, but lacking immediate charisma and the inspirational X-factor that moves people.
Wilkowski responded by discussing his trips traversing the Grand Canyon, his background (“I am the well-adjusted middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother. I’m the peacekeeper,” he said), and his desire to lead the people of Toledo to higher ground.
There is radical inspiration and bold leadership in Wilkowski’s simple desire, and that is on the record.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.