Bell is a coalition builderWritten by Mark Sobczak | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Leadership and courage — unfortunately descriptions you don’t often hear in describing most elected officials and candidates for elected office. Fortunately, we have a man running for mayor of Toledo who has proven his leadership and courage for our city, our region and our state time and time again.
Mike Bell is a proud graduate of Woodward High School where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame and of UT where his leadership was recognized when he was named student of the year in the College of Education and co-captain of the Rockets’ football team.
In 1990, Mike Bell became the youngest fire chief of any major city in the United States at age 35. Through his leadership, our Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations Department earned the elite status of “full accreditation” by the Commission of Fire Accreditation, a distinction only a select group of departments in the nation are able to achieve.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on our nation’s soil, Mike Bell was tapped as the leader to formulate Northwest Ohio’s Response and Plan for Preparedness — bringing together all of the region’s governments, safety organizations, hospitals, businesses, school districts and neighborhood groups.
Mike served as our fire chief until 2007 when Gov. Ted Strickland needed Mike’s leadership and talents for the top firefighter position in our state, the State Fire Marshal. He used his extraordinary skills in consensus-building and collaboration to institute the “Everyone Goes Home” initiative now being used throughout the state. This program won the Seal of Excellence Award by the Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives program.
As a 27-year firefighter, Mike demonstrated, on a daily basis, his commitment to duty and his courage to run in to dangerous situations when others ran away. Listening to the voices of friends and community leaders back in Toledo, Mike once again answered the call to duty and demonstrated his courage to accept the challenge to help rescue, in this case, the City of Toledo.
Realizing the City of Toledo is suffering from the challenges of 1) its aging infrastructure; 2) the local effects of the worst national economy since the Great Depression; and 3) a need for leadership to take our region into a new era of growth, economic development and prosperity, Mike is responding to this different type of three -alarm fire, agreeing to step up and run to be the next Mayor of Toledo.
Many of Mike’s friends encouraged him to run as a Democrat, but, over strong advice and counsel to the contrary, Mike once again demonstrated his courage. He chose to leave the comfort and confines of the party his parents, Norman and Ora, raised him to believe in and have supported for their entire lives. Mike is keenly aware that the challenges currently facing our city transcend any notion of partisanship. He has stressed the solutions to Toledo’s problems lie in our ability to collaborate and work together as Toledoans toward achieving our goals to make our community and region stronger.
Throughout his campaign for mayor, Mike has demonstrated in word and deed that he is not your typical politician. He is a leader who will bring transparency, collaboration, accountability, responsiveness and a solid work ethic to the office of the mayor and, in the process, show we can have some fun as well.
Mike has spent this campaign doing what he does best — bringing hundreds of concerned citizens and community leaders from our region together to identify our strengths and weaknesses. This coalition formulated a living and breathing 28-page document to move Toledo forward as a high-functioning city. “The Future of Toledo — Strategic Plan” can be viewed at the Web sites www.theFutureofToledo.org or www.MikeBellforToledo.com.
Having been close to the issues confronting our great City as a City Council member for three and a half years and as council president for 18 months, I believe it is time to bring forward a man of strong leadership and immense courage to be our next mayor of the City of Toledo … Mike Bell.
Mark Sobczak was recently president of Toledo City Council. He is currently vice president and business representative of Teamsters Local No. 20.