Substance breaks out


The Toledo mayoral campaign has been devoid so far of significant discussion of real issues. Now, two candidates — City Council members Joe McNamara and D. Michael Collins — are daring to talk substance.

Mr. Collins’ eight-point platform includes a lot of boilerplate: cutting taxes, reducing the work force at One Government Center (most prominently in the mayor’s office), restructuring the neighborhoods department and information-technology operations, and increasing the senior discount on water bills.

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Mr. McNamara wants to create “cooperative businesses” in Toledo based on a Cleveland initiative. Large institutions in the city would sponsor, and patronize, small businesses in areas of the city that don’t get much investment. These entrepreneurs eventually would become the owners of the businesses.

For example, Cleveland Clinic helped to launch a dry-cleaning business near the hospital. In Toledo, Mr. McNamara says, large institutions such as the University of Toledo or Mercy could play this catalyst role.

Mr. McNamara also says he wants the people and companies hired to work on the renovations to the city’s water plant to be local. He favors breaks on water and trash-pickup rates for seniors, and says Toleoans must start “investing in ourselves.”

This is all pretty thin gruel, but it’s a start. Mr. Collins and Mr. McNamara are mostly talking about management techniques, most of them sound, and some of them obvious, even banal.

What the city needs even more are salesmanship, optimism, and vision. It needs a commitment to the defense of a few basics — decent housing, well-paved streets, and stable neighborhoods.

That’s not to say management is not important. And it does relate to public safety and street repair.

But these candidates have only begun the substantive discussion the city so urgently needs — and very modestly. Still, they are to be commended for offering some specifics, which is more than incumbent Mike Bell and challenger Anita Lopez, the Lucas County auditor, have done.

No mayor will solve all our problems and bring thousands of new jobs, whatever any candidate claims. But the mayor can be expected to make government more efficient, responsive, and transparent, and to try to improve the quality of life for all Toledoans.

Mr. Collins and Mr. McNamara have made a start. We need more vision and more specifics from all the candidates.