RARELY have the stakes been higher in Toledo as voters go to the polls tomorrow. Double-digit unemployment, an auto industry in disarray, and tumbling housing prices have had a devastating effect on city revenues, resulting in contentious battles between outgoing Mayor Carty Finkberiner and City Council as well as among council members.
Toledo Public Schools continues to struggle to improve student achievement, complete a major building and renovation program, and prepare to evaluate Superintendent John Foley even as state officials cut the funds necessary to maintain critical programs.
Three state issues ask voters to balance their consciences against their pocketbooks on such diverse topics as veterans bonuses, treatment of farm animals, and casino gambling, and one local issue will have much to say about Toledo's commitment to ensuring its elderly residents will be able to enjoy healthy, active, and independent lives.
Here is a summary of The Blade's endorsements in key election contests:
Issue 1: Veterans bonuses
State lawmakers want to spend as much as $200 million providing one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 for Ohio veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and $5,000 for the families of Ohioans killed in those conflicts.
As admirable as their intent is, a better use for the money would be to expand medical, psychological, job-training, and employment services for Ohio veterans in need of more help transitioning to civilian life.
Ohio veterans need a hand, not a handout.
Vote NO on Issue 1.
Issue 2: Farm animal council
Is it too much to ask that pregnant sows, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying chickens have enough room in their cages to stand up, lie down, or turn around? Ohio's industrial farms think so, and they want a constitutional amendment that will give them absolute control over the conditions under which the animals we eat are raised. Legislation, not the Ohio Constitution, is the appropriate place to regulate animal care.
Vote NO on Issue 2.
Issue 3 : Casino gambling
Out-of-state interests are betting voters will believe their false promises of future riches and give them a monopoly on casino gambling in Ohio. But voters know gambling's jackpots always go to those who own the casinos. Even before the electorate has had its say, lawmakers are plotting how to siphon off a major portion of the pot of gold promised to local communities if gambling is approved.
A constitutional monopoly that eliminates competition, allows casino owners to set their own taxes and fees, and practically eliminates local control, but doesn't require the promised casinos to ever be built, is the very worst way to go about legalizing casino gambling.
Vote NO on Issue 3.
Local Ballot Issues
Issue 4: Area Office on Aging
The Area Office on Aging funds many important services for Lucas County seniors. Your tax dollars help provide coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables, thousands of nutritious meals, rides to doctors' appointments, home care, respite care for family members taking care of elderly relatives with Alzheimer's disease, and much, much more.
The 0.45-mill, five-year replacement levy — it's not a new tax — will cost the owner of a $100,000 home less than four cents per day. That's a small price to pay for helping Lucas County's 81,000 seniors live in dignity, and taxpayers can be certain that every dollar raised in Lucas County is spent in Lucas County.
Vote FOR Issue 4.
Municipal Court Judge
More than 75 percent of Toledo Bar Association members rated two of the three candidates for Municipal Court judge as either “recommended” or “highly recommended.” Two of the three candidates have experience as both prosecutors and defense attorneys in the very type of cases that fill the docket of this court of retail justice. Only one, however, can be elected. When all the evidence has been considered, our verdict is that justice will be best served in Toledo if voters elect Bill Connelly for Municipal Court judge.
Mayor of Toledo
Remarkably, Toledo has been blessed with two excellent candidates for mayor: Keith Wilkowski and Mike Bell. Each has the potential to do great things for Toledo; each has weaknesses that could short-circuit their desire to do good. The only certainty is that both are talented, earnest, honest, and committed to doing the right thing.
We defer to the wisdom of voters to turn out in large numbers to choose who will lead Toledo for the next four years.
Toledo City Council
Toledo voters want an end to the constant battles between the mayor and City Council. They want leaders who have energy, fresh ideas, and a willingness to work together for the common good. Voters also value experience, steadiness, and good sense. No single candidate can encompass all these traits but there are six who, combined, have demonstrated that they have what it takes to forge a new relationship with a new mayor and work with fellow council members to devise creative solutions to Toledo's short and long-term problems. For more productive government and a brighter future, vote for Terry Biel, Rob Ludeman, Adam Martinez, Joe McNamara, George Sarantou, and Steven Steel for Toledo City Council.
Toledo school board
There are many challenges ahead for Toledo Public Schools. Declining enrollments, cuts in state funding, low student achievement, and who will lead TPS are only a few of the issues that will clamor for attention over the next four years. Diverse skills and perspectives are needed to address these and other concerns. Bob Vasquez, Brenda Hill, and Aji Green have the skills needed on the Board of Education to help TPS fulfill its mandate to make quality education available to every child in Toledo.