Cecelia Adams appointed to fill Ford’s vacant Council seatWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
Toledo’s newest City Council member has decades of experience with kids and education. Now she’s looking to transition that skill set to serve the whole of Toledo’s citizens and communities.
Cecelia Adams, a Toledo Public Schools Board of Education member, was appointed April 14 to fill the at-large Toledo City Council seat vacated by Jack Ford, who died last month.
“Quality of education was my goal there,” Adams said of the school board. “Quality in the delivery of city services will be my goal here.”
The party-endorsed Democrat garnered a seven-vote majority and was appointed on the first vote.
Adams was nominated by Councilwoman Theresa Gabriel, an independent, who voted for her along with Democrats Tyrone Riley, Steven Steel, Larry Sykes, Lindsay Webb, Matt Cherry and Mike Craig.
Adams bested 28 other candidates for the seat.
“I think people have a destiny and when something is for you, it just works out,” Adams said. “But at the same time I think I’m prepared. I have the skills, the knowledge, the experience. I have the will to do the work and I’ve exhibited that in every position I’ve ever had, as a teacher, as an administrator, as a school board member. And I intend to put those skills and that will into play here at Council.”
Adams resigned from the school board after winning the seat. She will serve on Council until the seat is filled in the November general election. She said she plans to run for the seat.
Also nominated were Sam Melden, executive director of the Center for Servant Leadership, and Jason Schreiner, a social studies teacher at Whitmer High School.
Melden, an independent, received three votes, from Rob Ludeman, Scott Ramsey and nominator Sandy Spang. Voting for Schreiner, a Democrat, was Tom Waniewski, who nominated him.
The at-large Council seat is actually the second time Adams has filled a seat vacated by Ford. She was elected to his seat on the board of education after poor health prevented him from running for re-election.
“It was a pleasure and honor to serve on the Toledo board of education,” Adams said. “My mother served there many years ago and I was able to follow her footsteps onto that board. It was my great privilege to follow Mr. Ford on the board. … And it is beyond my wildest dreams that I could follow him on City Council. What an honor and a privilege.”
After being sworn in, Adams thanked the Lucas County Democratic Party for its endorsement.
“I intend to hit the floor running. I intend to make you proud and I hope to be able to make Toledo a shining city on a hill,” she said.
Adams was born and raised in Toledo, attending Scott High School before graduating from Bowsher High School and the University of Toledo. She is retired from a 30-year career as an educator and administrator with Toledo Public Schools.
“Toledo is very important to me,” Adams said. “You have opportunities to leave, but I never wanted to. I’ve always wanted to stay here. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be able to help improve our city and make it better because I know how it was when I was a girl and how vibrant Downtown was. I’d like to see us have a vibrant Downtown again. And communities where neighbors know each other. That’s how it was when I grew up and I’d like to see it that way again.”
Improving Toledoans’ quality of life is important to Adams.
“We need to look at [our neighborhoods] and make sure they are places people want to live and that people will be willing to stay,” Adams said. “We have to give our millennials and our high school graduates a reason not only to stay in Toledo but give them places in the city that are attractive to them to live there. I think we can do a better job with that. I’m sure Council is already starting to work on those things anyway. I just want to see how I can help.”
Adams has served on the school board since 2011, including serving as president and vice president. Her term was set to end Dec. 31 and she said she had recently decided to run for re-election in November. But her plans changed when Ford died.
“Nobody expected Mr. Ford to pass away and when he did, I think members of the community started looking around for who might be able to fill that position,” she said. “And so I started getting phone calls.”
At first she was hesitant.
“My initial response was, ‘No, thank you. I’m on the school board,’” Adams said. “I wanted to institutionalize some of the things we’ve been able to get into place. There’s some great things in terms of the momentum that’s behind the school district. And so I said no several times, very, very respectfully. But people kept talking with me until I said, ‘Maybe I better rethink this.’”
With her family’s blessing, she decided to seek the Council seat.
“It was a very difficult decision to make, but it’s just a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of someone so well-respected in the community,” Adams said. “He was a huge figure in our city, in our state.”
Adams said she thinks Ford would approve.
“He invited me to his home to encourage me to run for the school board so I think he would have invited me to replace him in this position,” Adams said. “Especially with I think having made a difference on the school board; I think he would think I could make a difference here.”
Adams said she admired Ford’s humility.
“He was humble. He had a certain sense of humility about him, with all the education and knowledge he had and how well read he was and a deep thinker. I think that watching him and how he carried himself and how scholarly he was in his approach to his duties as a public servant, those to me were things I think are highly admirable and that’s the approach I’d like to take.”
Council President Steel said Adams’ public service experience and background in education will be appreciated on Council.
“She’s already been an elected official so she understands the process of working through budgets, public budgets in particular, and working through issues in a public body and a public setting. That’s probably first and foremost,” Steel said. “Then she’s had a lifetime serving kids. I think as we think through issues of neighborhoods and parks and economic development, most of the things we think about [focus on] what’s going to be best for the future, to make our community a community of choice so kids who want to stay here have an opportunity to stay here. Her lifetime in education is going to be a great asset.”
“She’s well-rounded, a very seasoned politician, smooth,” Gabriel said. “She started out as a classroom teacher moving up through the system to become a board member. I think that’s phenomenal. Anyone that can succeed in the public school system can succeed anywhere in the world. She’s going to bring a lot of knowledge and experience to Council.”
Also during the meeting, Council unanimously voted to designate the 4-mile stretch of Nebraska Avenue between Division Street and Byrne Road as Jack Ford Way.