Pounds: President McNamaraWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo City Council rang in the new year on Jan. 3 with a unanimous vote naming Joe McNamara as Council president. While the vote may reflect how hard McNamara pushed for the job as much as it does the trust and support of his colleagues, it is nonetheless a welcome decision and another small step in turning around Toledo’s fortunes.
In my limited interactions with McNamara, I have found him to be thoughtful, moderate, sincere and a big-picture thinker in his concerns for Toledo and its citizens.
While he will guide Council through an era of exciting growth, thanks to investments by Chrysler, Penn National Gaming and the promising, albeit untested, Dashing Pacific, McNamara and his elected peers also face great challenges: the city budget, the administration of Mayor Mike Bell seeking additional water rate increases, fact-finding reports and union contracts, the deteriorating roads and city infrastructure, dwindling numbers of safety forces and the effort to pass the “temporary” 3/4 percent income tax.
McNamara shows potential for great bridge-building and leadership, but there are questions. Can he work with the mayor when necessary but also say “no” when he needs to? And can he encourage a majority of Council to follow his lead? Will he be able to keep in mind that the needs of district Council members are different than those of at-large members; at times, the at-large members see the bigger picture but do not always take into consideration the additional challenges district members face.
When previous Council President Wilma Brown was a district Council member, she had insight into that because she handled constituent issues on a daily basis. While the mixture of at-large and district Council members was designed to create balance, how balanced Council is depends in large part on the leadership of its president and how the different priorities are addressed.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.