On Sunday, The Blade challenged Toledo’s two candidates for mayor — Mayor Mike Bell and City Councilman D. Michael Collins — to pledge, in writing, to keep their campaigns clean and honest. On Monday, both men signed The Blade’s Clean Campaign Pledge, putting voters on notice that they will focus on the issues and not engage in mudslinging, half-truths, lies, and personal attacks.
When negative campaigning has become almost a norm, The Blade commends both candidates for responding quickly and affirmatively. In committing to an exemplary code of conduct, the candidates have demonstrated that they have the integrity and moral fiber to compete for Toledo’s highest office. Moreover, they have set a sterling standard for all city and suburban candidates, whether they are running for city council, school board, judge, or any other office of public trust.
The Blade, too, recognizes that it has a public responsibility. To the voters and our readers in northwest Ohio, we pledge that commentary on The Blade’s Pages of Opinion will, to the best of our ability, avoid personal attacks and remain fair, accurate, and rooted in reason. Moreover, we fully expect our readers to let us know when they think we have fallen short of that ideal.
Clean does not mean uninspiring or lackluster. On the contrary, on the key issues of taxes and spending, municipal services, public safety, labor relations, strategies for economic growth, mass transit, regionalism, race relations, and poverty the debate ought to be robust, spirited, passionate, and even heated. But heat and passion must be generated by light and reason, not scurrilous and irrelevant personal attacks.
The Blade’s Clean Campaign Pledge calls for honesty, fairness, respect, responsibility, and compassion. It demands that the candidates be transparent about campaign contributions and represent an opponent’s record honestly.
Mr. Collins called The Blade Monday morning and declared that he was ready to sign. After hearing from The Blade editorial page later that day, Mr. Bell’s campaign also said the mayor was on board.
“I’m a high-ground player, anyway,’’ Mr. Bell said Monday. “I don’t go in the mud with anybody. I look forward to debating the issues. If telling the truth can’t get it for you, I don’t need to be here.”
Mr. Collins, who was also the first primary candidate to release his financial information, said transparency was part of his “core values.”
“I will not engage — nor do I have any tolerance for those that do — in negative campaigning, or conduct opponent research for the exclusive reason of campaigning against another person’s character.”
Much is at stake at this critical time in Toledo’s history. By pledging to conduct a clean, issue-focused campaign, the two candidates for Toledo’s highest office are off to a fast, and clean, start.