Pounds: Bell for mayorWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
When Mike Bell faced Keith Wilkowski in the 2009 mayoral election, I endorsed him with the following words:
“Mike Bell is the best of a great field of candidates … Bell literally put his life on the line for Toledo, and he has parlayed the respect and experience he earned into a career that took him to Columbus as the state’s fire marshal. He is a proven leader with experience at the top of city government.
“When he is in the room, Bell has a passion and fire for leadership that is focused. He is consistent in his messages of embracing diverse ideas, uniting the people in and around Toledo and making the city a more conducive place to establish and operate a business. Toledo needs a mayor who has faced the hottest flames and kept his cool, a mayor who does not require a long learning curve. Bell is that man.”
Nothing that has been said in the past few months of forums and debates has convinced me, or many other business leaders, that Bell should lose his job to any of his challengers.
As I have asked before and will again: What arguments are there against Bell retaining his office? Bell has reached out to surrounding communities with an eye on cooperation and inclusion. His administration has put (contested) money back in the rainy day fund, arranged for a class of police officers and helped facilitate the smooth opening of Hollywood Casino Toledo, the city’s biggest development investment in a very long time.
Bell’s efforts to chisel out a place for Toledo on the global stage will have decades of continuing impact.
Bell has acknowledged some of the missteps his administration has made; such concessions are rare in politics and indicative of Bell’s growth as a leader. Try to think of similar mea culpas ever being issued by any of Bell’s public servant opponents.
There are those who continue to combat Bell over his 2010 use of exigent circumstances to cut city workers’ wages and his 2011 support of Senate Bill 5, which would have restricted public employee collective bargaining; even though their side “won” the latter battle, they would advance that ideology over what is best for the city’s momentum.
I have questioned and criticized some of Bell’s budget decisions and continue to be concerned about some of the communication issues between Bell and City Council. But those publicly acknowledging their interest in the mayor’s office seem to be much more interested in their own advancement than in what is best for Toledo.
Bell has restored dignity and action to an office that was sorely lacking both. His challengers have failed to do more than spout the same tired rhetoric. The state of the city is stronger than it has been in a long time, and while there have been bumps along the road, much of that progress can be attributed to Bell’s steady leadership. Bell deserves to retain the mayor’s office by qualifying in the Sept. 10 primary, then make his case through the November election. Any other result threatens the precious and nascent momentum that can save Toledo from becoming the next Detroit.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.