Debate: Wilkowski ‘undecided’ on Issue 3; Bell against forced closure of Route 66Written by Kristen Criswell | | email@example.com
Mike Bell and Keith Wilkowski had a fireside debate Oct. 14, and provided some heat of their own.
In the hour-long debate, presented by Toledo Free Press and FOX Toledo and sponsored by SSOE and the University of Toledo, the candidates exchanged occassionaly heated comments.
The pair discussed whether Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s actions to close down a bar, Route 66, after a local shooting fall under the mayor’s authority.
Bell thought the act fell under the mayor’s authority but it would not be his course of action.
“ That’s a private business person, we’re trying bring and create jobs inside our city and we can not afford to be closing things that actually create revenue for our city,” Bell said. “ The main issue, from my point of view being a safety person at heart, is that bar. We still have those individuals who are out there who’ve done the shooting. So we haven’t corrected the problem, all we’re doing is putting an impact on a private business. That makes it very difficult for that person and also has an impact for our city.”
Wilkowski said the issue of closing the bar is not an issue about jobs but about public safety.
“I as mayor am listening to the police professionals in terms of should be done with that bar. I’m a big supporter of private enterprise but I think that when we have these kinds of situations we need to be concerned about that. So I’m going to make sure I follow the advice of police professionals and make sure we have a safe neighborhood there. And if the establishment is a problem and has a record of that, then we can use, there’s a legitimate process of objecting to it, that it continues.”
The candidates also addressed their thoughts about Issue 3. Bell said he supports the issue, and revenue it could bring the city while Wilkowski said he is undecided and still listening to both sides.
“In our ship called Northwest Ohio there are a number of people who no life preservers, meaning they have no other options. We have people sitting in the Cherry Street mission now that use to work. They have no ability to make any time of income. So the ideal concept that we can get those people out of the missions and some of those people back to work. Regardless of the gambling portion or the casino portion, it’s not a fix all by any means, it’s just going to slow down a leak that we have currently in our boat,” Bell said.
In addition the pair discussed firefighter and police pensions with view to making cuts. Wilkowski said employee contracts call for a full pension pick up, where the city is required to pay a full employer share and employee share.
“I think that we recognize, Toledoans recognize, that those are contracts that are out of whack with what the private sector is doing. And we need to in a rational and in a reasonable way address that,” Wilkowski said. “ I think Toledoans have a sense of some excess that had been placed into those contracts. We can be fair to everyone, I’m confident of that, but there are some portions of those contracts that Toledoans just can’t afford.”
Wilkowski had the chance to discuss his stance on preserving the old United Way building. He said he has not toured the building, but there is a process in the zoning and planning code that allows for the exploration for options as an alternative to demolition.
“What all I’ve called for is going through an established code process, for seeing whether you can preserve that building. Ultimately, the private owner if the process does not play out, would have the right to demolish it,” said Wilkowski. “All I’m saying is lets preserve options. Anyone who goes Downtown sees is that we have lots of bare land and surface parking lots. A downtown consists of having a mass of buildings, that’s sort of what its all about, its got this body and substance to it. So I think we should go through that process and if we can come up with some creative ideas to do it we should. Ultimately if the building doesn’t satisfy those standards it can be demolished.”
Bell said Wilkowski’s answer demonstrated how government “slows things down” when dealing with private business.
The full debate can be viewed at www.foxtoledo.com.