McNamara goes casual for forum at Ottawa TavernWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first five minutes of his time at Ottawa Tavern speaking to voters on Aug. 13, mayoral candidate Joe McNamara spoke of his time working as a singing waiter, as well as beer and one of his dogs’ intestinal issues.
McNamara’s much more casual approach to at least the beginning of the event was the kind of talk you would hear typically at a bar like the Ottawa Tavern, where McNamara was the featured candidate in the bar’s latest installment of its Political Parties series.
McNamara said he was taking pointers from his wife, who told him that he would “win the election, hands down, if [voters] knew how funny you were.” Thus, McNamara told bar-goers that the three things he loves most in life are “beer, my dogs and my wife.”
He regaled voters with tales of his home brewing hobby, noting that he has given fellow City Councilmen a sample of his brews “after a tough night on Council.”
“Beer is a lot like government. Both beer and government have been around since the dawn of civilization, but they’re always being tweaked and there’s many different versions. Having good leaders in government and good brewers in beer gives you a better product in both,” McNamara said. “I want to brew the best Toledo possible.”
McNamara covered a number of changes he hopes to make to the city, and fielded a number of questions from attendees, some of whom were self-professed supporters.
First on his agenda was a plan for economic development, focused on five key improvements: conducting a nationwide search for a qualified economic development director, increasing local preference for city jobs, constructing a recycling plant to process the city’s recyclable waste instead of transporting it to Ann Arbor, improving energy efficiency of local homes, and implementing something similar to Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative, which creates jobs at institutions which anchor the communities most in need of jobs.
McNamara said his main priority is raising the median income of Toledoans.
“That by far has got to be the biggest goal of the mayor of Toledo,” he said. “Doing that is what most promotes a healthy community.”
His other main focus: crime.
“Crime is obviously the second biggest issue in this race, in terms of being on the minds of voters,” McNamara said.
He said the CeaseFire model, which has been used in Chicago and is a way for law enforcement to identify the gang members most likely to commit crimes, is something he is interested in implementing in the city.
“Research shows that a very small population is responsible for a largest chunk of the violence. And the model treats violence as a disease that can be treated and cured,” McNamara said.
He also noted that he was in favor of hiring more police officers, as well as re-opening the Northwest District police station.
“I am a big proponent of neighborhood police and fire stations,” he said. “Neighbors and neighborhoods like being near police and fire stations.”
McNamara also faced a slew of tough questions, some of which came from a new source this week: Twitter.
Ottawa Tavern staffers read questions asked via the bar’s Twitter account. While the option of tweeted questions has been an option at each installment of the Political Parties series, this was the first event where followers actually sent in questions for the candidate.
McNamara answered questions from in-person voters as well, who asked several clarifying questions about the plan he laid out that evening. They also quizzed McNamara on his positions on tough issues, including a mailer he sent out that questioned fellow candidate and Auditor Anita Lopez’s choices while in office.
One self-proclaimed supporter of McNamara’s asked if the City Councilman was trying to convince voters to vote for him, or just not for Lopez.
“I think I’ve been the most substantive candidate in the race,” McNamara said. “Elections are about choices, and you need to explain how you’re different from other candidates. And I think ethics is a big part of public service. … I think ethics are very important and that’s what that mail piece was about.”
McNamara also answered voters’ questions about a number of issues, ranging from his voting stance on Right to Work laws to algae in Lake Erie to the increasing lack of access to abortion services in Toledo.
He also condemned the recent congressional redistricting, saying, “It has been bad for women, it has been bad for urban schools, it has been bad for Toledo.”
McNamara told voters that becoming Toledo’s next mayor would be a dream come true.
“There’s probably not a lot of people who get to say they’re doing their dream job. For me, public service is my dream job,” he said.
Next Tuesday, Mayor Mike Bell will be the next candidate to meet and greet with voters. Still to come are Anita Lopez (Aug. 27) and Opal Covey (Sept. 3).
Toledo Free Press and 1370 WSPD are media sponsors for the event.
For more information, visit www.otavern.com.