“If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.”
— Jay Leno
There may be a lot to complain about as Toledo faces the Nov. 3 election, but a lack of candidates isn’t one of them. The Sept. 15 primary gave us a wide field of mayoral and city council hopefuls, and there are many quality choices on the ballot as we face some tremendously important decisions.
After reporting on all the races, discussing the issues in-house with our editing team and consulting with a number of community leaders, Toledo Free Press offers the following endorsement suggestions. Agree or disagree, but do the one thing that matters on Nov. 3: vote.
Yes on Issue 1: State Issue 1 would “authorize the state to issue up to $200 million of bonds to provide compensation to veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, and to pay for the administration of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Compensation Bond Retirement Fund and the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Compensation Fund.”
There’s no cogent argument against supporting this issue, which is just the beginning when it comes to taking care of our veterans.
No on Issue 2: Issue 2 would “create the Livestock Care Standards Board to prescribe standards for animal care and well-being.”
The idea of trying to protect farm animals and to protect us as consumers on face value is a good thing. While the intentions of Issue 2 may be to do that, it’s the lack of clear guidelines in how Issue 2 would make that happen that has given us pause. One glaring example: while it’s stated that “family farms” would have representation on the 13-member Livestock Care Standards Board that Issue 2 would create, there is no definition of exactly what a “family farm” is. There would need to be additional legislation created by the Ohio General Assembly, to not only define what a “family farm” is but to also create laws related to Issue 2.
We understand one of the unspoken premises behind Issue 2 is it would make it difficult for a ballot issue similar to California’s Proposition 2 to ever pass here in Ohio. We believe the General Assembly could address any necessary changes to Ohio’s Animal Cruelty laws without requiring a constitutional amendment.
Yes on Issue 3: Issue 3 would “authorize only one casino facility at a specifically designated location within each of the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo and levy a fixed tax of 33 percent of gross casino revenue received by each casino operator of the four casino facilities.”
These casinos are a major attraction, a world-class operation that would put Toledo in the rare position of getting its share along with the state’s “Three C” cities. It would boost the region’s self-esteem to have such a big league draw, and we have to give our citizens (and law enforcement officials) enough credit to believe the attendant challenges will be met with intelligence and careful preparation.
Yes on Issue 4: The levy, a replacement, funds Area Office on Aging (AOoA) programs for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as their caregivers; meals to homebound and frail elderly; health care services to help Lucas County senior citizens remain independent and at home; medical transportation; outreach and chore services; as well as funding 13 senior centers across Lucas County.
As the state cuts back and philanthropic giving struggles to regain previous levels, this growing population will continue to need the community’s help. A yes vote on Issue 4 will help AOoA maintain its services and adjust to help this significant portion of our neighbors, friends and family.
TPS Board of Education
There are three seats to fill on the Toledo Public Schools (TPS) board. We believe the two best candidates are Darlene Fisher and Bob Vasquez. The supporters of each of these candidates may be surprised that the other meets our standards, but balance and open conversation is the crux of the process. Fisher has proven herself to be focused on issues that have direct impact on students: school supplies, financial transparency and the preservation of existing facilities such as Scott High School. Vasquez has worked to reach out to the community and has the seeming full support of the unions. The hope is these wildly divergent candidates can unite the board.
Toledo Municipal Judge
All three of the candidates running for the one Toledo Municipal Court judge seat — Bill Connelly, Mark Davis and Ian English — have the professional experience to be a judge. Connelly and English expressed their desire to prevent some of the felony cases they see as prosecutors from taking place by striving to keep misdemeanor offenders from becoming repeat offenders. Davis cites his experience in the practice of criminal and civil law.
While we as a community would be well served by any of these three men being elected to judge, our endorsement is for Ian English with Connelly a razor-thin second. English acknowledges the distance some in our community feel from the court system. His willingness to engage the community is needed in this region.
Toledo City Council
With six open seats on Toledo City Council, the new mayor will have a potentially very different group to work with. There are sinners and saints running, but the four candidates we have the most faith in are Rob Ludeman, Joe McNamara, Adam Martinez and George Sarantou. Ludeman and Sarantou bring established business voices to council McNamara has continued to grow and mature as a leader; his drive for the failed Issue 2 is one example that he understands the right thing to do is not always the most politically popular thing to do. Martinez brings a fresh mind, and his experience as a Community Development Corporation director should help him understand where politics has its greatest impact: at the neighborhood level.
After numerous weeks of conversation, monitoring debates and talking with the candidates, the consensus is: There is no consensus. Mike Bell and Keith Wilkowski offer potential for vast improvement in Toledo’s future. As our endorsements are not anonymous, but very much linked to our names and faces, it would be dishonest for one of us to capitulate to a stance that is not fervently believed. As our decisions have not changed, neither have our basic arguments.
Tom Pounds: Mike Bell literally put his life on the line for Toledo and he has parlayed the respect and experience he earned into a career that took him to Columbus as the state’s fire marshal. He is a proven leader with first-responder experience, and no one else has that inside view.
I believe Bell “knows what he doesn’t know,” and he will hire people who are experts in their fields, not try to over-reach and perform duties he is unqualified to attempt.
I believe Bell has a greater tendency to allow private enterprise to take its course, as his hands-off stances on the United Way building and Route 66 demonstrate.
Michael S. Miller: Keith Wilkowski 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 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.
Thomas F. Pounds is publisher of Toledo Free Press. Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press.