Pounds: The race is onWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
During his Jan. 28 State of the City speech, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell announced he will run for re-election this fall. Reaction from Democratic foes was swift and dismissive, indicative of what will undoubtedly be a heated attempt to hinder Bell’s progress.
I have confidence that Bell can fulfill his responsibilities to the city while navigating the distractions. But I fully expect his opponents to do their best to hinder his efforts, sacrificing the city’s gains for their personal ambitions.
As I have asked before and will repeat: There are still many months to go, but if the election took place next week, what arguments are there against Bell retaining his office? Bell has reached out to surrounding communities with an eye on cooperation and inclusion. His administration has put (contested) money back in the rainy day fund, arranged for a class of police officers and helped accommodate the smooth opening of Hollywood Casino Toledo, the city’s biggest development investment in a very long time.
Bell’s efforts to chisel out a place for Toledo on the global stage will have decades of continuing impact. His latest trip, a late-November visit to China, was another marketing and exposure success that further cultivated the seeds of commerce he has been planting on the international stage.
In his Jan. 28 speech, Bell acknowledged some of the missteps his administration has made; such concessions are rare in politics and indicative of Bell’s growth as a leader. Try to think of similar mea culpas ever being issued by any of Bell’s public servant opponents.
There are those who are ready to combat Bell over his 2010 use of exigent circumstances to cut city workers’ wages and his 2011 support of Senate Bill 5, which would have restricted public employee collective bargaining; even though their side “won” the latter battle, they would advance that ideology over what is best for the city’s momentum.
I have questioned and criticized some of Bell’s budget decisions and continue to be concerned about some of the communication issues between Bell and City Council. But those publicly acknowledging their interest in the mayor’s office seem to be much more interested in their own advancement than in what is best for Toledo.
Bell has restored dignity and action to an office that was sorely lacking both. His challengers will need a lot more than the same old rhetoric and misguided ambition to take a serious shot at silencing his voice. The state of the city is stronger than it has been in a long time, and while there have been bumps along the road, much of that progress can be attributed to Bell’s steady leadership.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.