McNamara announces run for mayorWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo City Council president Joe McNamara officially announced his run for mayor of the Glass City on Feb. 12.
The announcement took place outside Fire Station 3 on Bush Street in North Toledo, a location near the historic Vistula district. McNamara, an at-large councilman elected in 2006, chose the spot because of his efforts to fix and reopen the station.
“We’re here today as a nod to Toledo’s past, to present a vision of Toledo’s future,” McNamara said as part of his prepared remarks. The councilman is also an attorney and practices law Downtown.
Creating job opportunities for Toledo residents would be the focus of McNamara’s administration. The more people working, the more tax the city will collect, he said.
“Studies on economic development repeatedly point to a self-evident fact: When people are gainfully employed the entire community benefits,” McNamara said.
Creating economic opportunities would be his main “weapon” for fighting poverty, blight, crime and more, the councilman said.
“The focus has to be on jobs for people who live here. That’s key. If you raise the medium income of the resident population, everything else benefits,” McNamara said, adding that focusing on creating job opportunities will help combat Toledo’s growing poverty level.
“Toledo is facing many serious challenges and no matter how you look at it, the root of those problems is poverty,” McNamara said. “Poverty is growing in Toledo and this is unacceptable because the median income of our population affects everything.”
Mayor Mike Bell, a political independent, is running for re-election. Also planning to run so far are union president and neighborhood development specialist Alan Cox and Minister Opal Covey.
Economic development has been Mayor Bell’s biggest downfall, McNamara said.
“The City of Toledo’s economic development decisions have to be smart. We have to do better,” McNamara said. “We have to stop shooting from the hip and focus our sights on creating good-paying jobs for those who live in the city limits.”
“The jury is still out” on the sale of the marina district to Chinese investors that Bell helped orchestrate, McNamara said.
“Selling city assets to foreign investors is not the same thing as promoting investment, as creating jobs, and that has to be the focus,” McNamara said.
Like Martin Luther King Jr., McNamara said he is “moved by the fierce urgency of now” to declare his candidacy.
He said he is passionate about serving Toledo like his late father, who was a city councilman and Lucas County auditor, his mother, a former director of the Lucas County Board of Elections and assistant Lucas County prosecutor and his wife, who works for a community development corporation.
“Giving back to the community is a way of life in my family and we treat it like a calling,” McNamara said.
Toledo also needs to prioritize public safety and remove blight in a timely manner without compromising what makes historic neighborhoods unique, he said.
“We have to be honest. We are losing this city,” McNamara said. “We lose this city with every kid who fails to graduate from high school. We lose this city from every kid who does graduate high school and moves away from Toledo. We’re losing this city with each home foreclosure and with every job that moves to the suburbs and every shooting that happens in our neighborhoods.
“Toledo deserves better. Toledo deserves safe, clean neighborhoods. Toledo deserves a strong public school system. Toledo deserves to have economic opportunities where anyone who is willing to work hard can raise a family and provide a better life for their children.
“But to have this future we need to invest in ourselves now. We need to get the next election right. To breathe new life into the city, we need to breathe new life into the 22nd floor of [One] Government Center.”
North Toledo resident Chuck Sorensen, who lives a few blocks from the fire station and attended McNamara’s Feb. 12 announcement, said he supports McNamara’s bid for mayor.
“I’m excited at the prospect,” Sorensen said. “There has definitely been an increase in poverty and also I’m concerned about the level of crime in Toledo. I like his focus on economic benefit for the city. I think that’s what’s needed.”
Sorensen, an out-of-work industrial geologist who is going back to school for an education degree and hopes to teach science, also approved of McNamara’s efforts to save the local fire station.
“That’s something Mr. McNamara fought for and it’s important to people in this neighborhood,” Sorensen said. “Mr. McNamara correctly pointed out that it would be cheaper [than building a new station] to use modern engineering techniques and fix the building so it would be operational. The fact it was open produced a sense of security and you need that in the North End, unfortunately.”
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