Collins unseats incumbent Bell in mayoral raceWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins ousted incumbent Mayor Mike Bell by a 14-point margin Nov. 5 in a race between the two independent candidates. Collins nabbed 57 percent of the votes, while Bell brought in 43 percent.
Collins made his way though the September primary in what many Toledoans considered a surprise win, and was out-fundraised by Bell nearly four-to-one ahead of this week’s election.
“An independent with no money and given, realistically, no chances of success, today defined that the Davids really can be successful over the Goliaths of the Earth,” Collins said.
Collins said that while running he had no idea whether his campaign would be successful, but noted he was glad his platform resonated with voters.
“I really couldn’t tell. People asked me all through the campaign,” Collins said. “I think that we ran our campaign based upon what we felt the leadership of the city of Toledo should be all about. And apparently the citizens must have agreed with us.”
As he exchanged hugs with supporters who left his election night party at the Teamsters Local 20 hall, Collins said, “I understand that realistically, a candidate is no stronger than the team that surrounds them.”
Mayor-elect Collins has a full schedule between now and his January inauguration, beginning with a City Council meeting Nov. 6. Fellow Council members Rob Ludeman and Paula Hicks-Hudson plan to introduce legislation on restricting “puppy mills” and Collins said he will ask for it to be put into his committee so Council can have a hearing on it.
“I’m feeling very humbled,” Collins said. “And I’m feeling tired, but it’s a peaceful tired.”
Although he didn’t win, Bell said he had “no regrets” about his time in office, or the way he ran his re-election campaign.
“I did what I said I had to do. I came back here and I fixed the city. I feel bad for my staff and the people who have worked for me, because they have done such a great job. But personally, I don’t feel bad at all. I did exactly what I said I was going to do,” Bell said. “Maybe they didn’t understand what we were doing. Maybe we didn’t market it well enough. But outside of that, we accomplished what we set out to do.”
The current mayor said he is at peace with only having one term in office.
“When I was running last time, I said that if I did things right, I would only end up being a one-term mayor because you make so many people mad trying to fix stuff. I did the best I could,” Bell said.
Bell said he doesn’t plan on making any drastic changes during his remaining time as mayor, and will focus on maintaining a balanced budget.
He said he is looking forward to spending more time on his motorcycle after he leaves office.
Toledoans also cast votes for six vacant at-large City Council seats. Familiar faces like former mayor Jack Ford and Theresa Gabriel, the former assistant chief of staff to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, will work for the city again as councilmembers.
Incumbents Rob Ludeman and Steve Steel kept their spots on Council. Fellow incumbent Adam Martinez’s fate on Council hangs in the balance, as only 39 votes separate him from Toledo Public Schools Board of Education member Larry Sykes and could trigger a recount.
Political newcomer Sandy Spang, who placed third in the election, rounds out the list of new councilmembers. Incumbent Shaun Enright placed eighth, and will not retain his seat on Council.
Voters also provided some direction for Toledo Public Schools in the election. A $6.5 million renewal levy was overwhelmingly passed, with 64.8 percent of voters backing its approval. The district will also see two new members on its school board. Incumbent Bob Vasquez will be joined by Polly Taylor-Gerken and Chris Varwig, who were selected as new board members.
In other Toledo races, Judges Joshua Lanzinger and the unopposed Amy J. Berling were re-elected to Toledo Municipal Court, and Vallie Bowman-English kept her position as Toledo Clerk of Court.
This year’s election was marked by low voter turnout, with 25.4 percent of Toledoans casting ballots. Voter turnout dropped by almost 10 percent as compared to the mayoral election in 2009, which saw 34.5 percent of Toledoans voting.
Lucas County residents also approved two levies: 60.1 percent of voters opted for the renewal of a levy for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, while 52.2 percent voted for a 1.8 mill replacement levy with an increase for the county’s Board of Developmental Disabilities.
A number of cities in the area also have new mayors. Michael J. Seferian is the new mayor in Oregon, the unopposed Craig Stough will be leading Sylvania and Mike Olmstead will be Perrysburg’s mayor.
Lucas County Board of Elections officials said voters only experienced minor, but unsurprising hiccups at the polls Tuesday. More noticeable tie-ups came Tuesday night at the Board of Elections’ Early Voting Center. Vote counting temporarily stalled due to an IT error caused when an employee failed to enter data pertaining to the number of registered voters in the county. But when fire alarms sounded for several minutes and a local fire crew arrived, poll workers didn’t seem to notice and kept working.