Toledo voters can send a message Nov. 3Written by Kevin Milliken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Voters have a number of methods to arrive at their selections when it comes to deciding who to support for mayor, Toledo City Council, and the TPS board of education.
One of the most widely-used– and might I say dangerous– is name recognition. Many people blindly vote for names they know without doing much, if any, homework.
The top six vote-getters in the September primary for city council were four incumbents, a former city councilman, and a candidate married to a Lucas County Commissioner.
Positions 7-23 were occupied by candidates who never have served our community in elected office before.
If voters are satisfied with the situation in city government, then the primary results spoke volumes. However, I suggest otherwise.
There were 17 other candidates who sought to make a difference in their community– and split the vote of citizens who want things done differently. That’s a new record for an at-large city council race, according to the Lucas County Board of Elections.
Next, there were three separate, but distinct, efforts to change the way things are. Take Back Toledo tried to remove Mayor Carty Finkbeiner from office. Nine is Fine attempted to reduce the size of city council. Teamwork Toledo hoped to ensure a coalition of fresh faces decided the future of the Glass City.
All three efforts met their own ends– the mayor decided not to run again, voters turned down a reduction in representation, and two independent candidates made it to the general election. However, one of those decided not to continue her campaign.
The challenges to the status quo have presented themselves– and they have been received by voters with limited success. Now we’re at the end of the road. If voters are going to take a stand for change, they will speak on Nov. 3 at the ballot box.
To that end, there are any number of ways voters can take that stand.
First, show up at the polls. Only 18 percent of Toledo’s registered voters bothered to exercise their right during the September primary. You don’t have a right to complain later if you don’t do your part and vote.
Next, do your homework. What do the candidates really stand for on the important issues? Have they stated publicly what they intend to do? Do they have the temperament to work well with eleven other council members? For incumbents, does their record reflect what they’re telling you? For first-time candidates, do they have a good grasp on how city government operates and are their proposals realistic and achievable?
Third, the strongest message can be sent with the way you vote.
The single candidate approach. You can hurt other candidates and help the one you support most by casting just one vote for one council candidate. That way your selection is not canceled out by votes for other people you may not know as well.
The anti-incumbent approach. Some voters have told me they only intend to cast votes for fresh faces, because they’re dissatisfied with the way things stand and the job their current elected council representatives have handled city government. They want new blood to take the city in a different direction.
The anti-tax approach. Some voters will choose candidates who have pledged to oppose any new taxes or fees. This one happens to be my personal favorite, because I’m the only candidate who has publicly stated he will vote against any tax increase, fee hike, or revenue enhancement. The facts are clear here: four incumbents recently voted to raise the trash tax, even though the effort failed. One or two of them later told the public at voter forums they were working to balance the budget without raising taxes.
The party line approach. Some voters are such diehard Democrats or staunch Republicans that they’ll support only those candidates endorsed by their favorite party. That could prove problematic for the Dems, because the party leadership endorsed all seven Democrats– and there are only six seats up for grabs! Fuzzy math, at best.
The comfort approach. With this voting method, citizens only cast ballots for those candidates they’re sure will do a good job. They may feel pressured to vote for six to fulfill some sort of obligation– but then turn around and cast ballots on faith and hope that the candidate will do the right thing. However, these citizens may cast ballots for two, three, maybe four people they have confidence in representing them well.
The good news is this: there will be two new faces on Toledo City Council following the election, because one current councilwoman is term-limited and a second chose not to seek re-election. However, only one will truly be new, if September’s leading vote-getter keeps his top dog status and returns to city council after a brief absence.
The future of our city is at stake. There are plenty of issues and candidates to decide– the future of gambling in Toledo and other cities, a new mayor, and half of city council.
Which will you choose? Professional politicians who will move forward the same-old, same-old political agenda that has led to the current sad state of affairs, aka the status quo. Or fresh faces with fresh ideas and a fresh approach who want to be true public servants.
The challenges are many, the differences between candidates are distinct. But only you as a voter can determine which approach is best. After all, you are the boss of a city government that’s supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Kevin Milliken is an independent candidate for an at-large seat on Toledo City Council. His campaign Web site is www.millikenfortoledo.com.