Cox aims for mayor, hopes voters want city managerWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Cox may be the only mayoral candidate who hopes he won’t have the power that comes with the position.
At the Ottawa Tavern’s weekly Political Parties series on July 23, Cox explained to those attending the event that he hoped to return Toledo to a city manager form of government.
“What I’m going to hopefully convince you of is that I can show you … why a city manager is going to do a better job of being good stewards of [citizens'] tax dollars and fees,” Cox said.
Cox, a neighborhood development specialist, said that the mayor’s race has become more focused on candidates’ political experience, rather than their managerial experience.
“That city manager is appointed by City Council. And the requirements to be city manager are appointed solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications,’’ Cox said, referencing the city’s former charter that explained the city manager position.
“When was the last time you heard any mayoral candidate say, ‘Here are my executive and administrative qualifications?’ They tell you all about their political experience,” he added.
While returning Toledo to a city manager form of government is Cox’s primary goal, he noted that he hopes voters won’t see him as a one-issue candidate.
“There are certainly other things I hope to look at and do,” Cox said. “What I want you to go away with tonight is that it’s not just about city manager.”
Cox said that in addition to re-creating the city manager role, he hopes to show citizens how a strong-mayor form of government would ideally be run.
“I know that I have the training and the experience to show you what the CEO mayor should have looked like over the last 20 years,” Cox said.
Cox, who “supported Mayor Bell vehemently” four years ago, said he is disappointed in Bell’s tenure as mayor.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I thought he did the right job,” said Cox, who is also the president of AFSCME Local 2058.
He claimed that members of his union expressed to him that Bell is distant from the city’s departments.
“A lot of them feel that [Deputy Mayor] Steve Herwat is really the one making the decisions and running the city,” Cox said. “I know anytime I’ve had dealings with the city, it’s been with Steve Herwat. I’ve met with the present mayor twice in the three and a half years he’s been mayor.”
Cox gave the city’s operations a “C average” grade, nothing that, “It’s nice, but it’s not doing as well as we could.”
During the event, Cox also spoke about the city’s aging water treatment and sewer system, which he said has needed repairs since 1963.
“It’s taken us this long to get to the point of doing something,” Cox said, calling lawmakers “pigheaded” for failing to make the repairs sooner.
Fielding only a few questions from a crowd highlighted by supporters who donned bright yellow shirts, Cox answered questions about economic development on Toledo’s East Side before moving on to questions about his city manager plan.
Cox explained to questioners that it would be easier to implement a city manager form of government while in office, rather than as a citizen.
“It’s a lot easier when you’re on the inside, working with Council to convince them to get it on the ballot,” Cox said. “I’ve been working on trying to get city manager on the ballot since 2008. It’s not an easy process.”
Still, Cox said that if he isn’t elected, he will continue to fight for a city manager.
“If I don’t get elected, I’m still going to be pushing for a city manager form of government. But it’s going to be a lot tougher to get it done,” he said.
On July 30, Mayor Mike Bell will be the third candidate to take the mic at the Ottawa Tavern.
The other candidates making appearances are Opal Covey (Aug. 6) and Councilman Joe McNamara (Aug. 13). Auditor Anita Lopez, whose July 9 event was postponed, has rescheduled for Aug. 27.
Toledo Free Press and 1370 WSPD are media sponsors for the event. For more information, visit www.otavern.com.