Konwinski: The race for mayorWritten by Micheal Konwinski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The race for Toledo’s mayor has Councilman D. Michael Collins versus Mayor Mike Bell — ex-policeman versus ex-fireman, Independent versus Independent. What is interesting about this is that neither is an attorney — they both worked a full career before entering politics — and they are not Democrats. In politics, particularly Toledo politics, this is unusual.
Bell is running a low-key campaign, which basically concentrates on three major points: solving the 2010 deficit “crisis,” bringing new investment into Toledo and reducing crime. Bell cruised to a first-place finish in the primary without too much effort. Whether that was an endorsement of his stewardship or due to the other candidates knocking each other off remains to be seen.
Collins, on the other hand, was expected to finish in the back of the pack. Indeed, he was listed as a “second tier” candidate (I was designated a “third tier” candidate) behind Bell and Anita Lopez. Collins finished second through a combination of hard work and a decent message, and benefited from the Lopez/Joe McNamara crash. My NASCAR analogy is that Bell had a comfortable lead as McNamara kept banging on Lopez’s bumper attempting to pass her and she lost control, wrecking both herself and McNamara. This enabled Collins to miss the accident and speed ahead into second. Alan Cox and I were lapped, and Opal Covey spent most of her time in the pits.
I watched Bell and Collins in all of the primary forums, the Ottawa Tavern discussions and the first debate between them. I have also looked at their websites and talked to them briefly during the primary. Both of them seem to be nice guys who want to do what’s right for Toledo, and neither one will embarrass Toledo.
The one thing that did please me about Collins’ win was that he did it without spending a huge amount of money. It was nice to see that you can win a primary without spending $100,000. It gives hope to future candidates. I am also amused to see Carty Finkbeiner, Jack Ford and other Democrats scrambling to reach out to Collins in an effort to keep themselves relevant.
Bell has the advantage of incumbency, and in Toledo, that is a huge advantage. Toledo has always seemed to have a fatalistic approach to city government. While I was collecting my signatures, many people wished me luck, but would then say “You know, they are not gonna let you do those things,” referring to the cuts I planned to make. Nobody could really tell me who “they” were, but the inference was the other politicians, their supporters and the mysterious “others” who lurk around One Government Center. That got me to thinking that not only did I have to show voters that I could do the job, I had to convince them that I wouldn’t “screw up” if elected. It seemed that people were so frustrated with the mayors prior to Bell that as long as Bell didn’t drive the city motorcycle over a fiscal cliff, the voters would be happy.
The mission that Collins has is to not only show that he is different from Bell — he has to be specific in how he will improve the city, prove to the voters that he will not let the mysterious “they” control him and assure them that he won’t screw it up. It won’t be easy; the history of Toledo politics is that we would rather avoid failure than risk success. We would rather keep handing the ball off than risk the interception. Just look at who we keep sending to Congress.
Michael Konwinski is a lifelong Toledoan. He graduated from the University of Toledo in 1978. He worked for the City of Toledo, retiring in December of 2012 after almost 31 years. He was the Libertarian candidate for mayor in the recent primary election.