THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
The executive appointments announced this week by Toledo Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins include some intriguing selections, a few less-inspiring ones, and some whose success won’t be known for months, perhaps years. Yet the new mayor deserves the opportunity to put his team on the field before any reaction from the bleachers becomes too intense.
During his winning campaign this fall against incumbent Mike Bell, Mr. Collins assailed the practice of retired city officials returning to the municipal payroll. Yet two of his top appointees — chief of staff Robert Reinbolt and public service director William Franklin — held high-ranking positions in the administrations of former mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Jack Ford, respectively.
Those selections might seem at first glance to contradict Mr. Collins’ pledge of change in city government. But the mayor-elect says Mr. Reinbolt and Mr. Franklin will act as mentors to younger appointees until the latter are ready to step into more-demanding positions. That approach is worth a try, provided the transition does not take too long.
Similarly, Mr. Collins’ police chief, Toledo Police Lt. William Moton, is expected to serve about a year until he retires, buying time to find a permanent successor. But Lieutenant Moton appears to be more than a seat-filler; he has a solid record of experience and achievement.
Two high-profile appointees are stepping into especially difficult situations. Tom Kroma, a former department head under Mr. Finkbeiner, will direct the city’s Neighborhoods Department, which must work quickly to develop and execute a more comprehensive and compassionate strategy to fight homelessness than now guides city policy.
Matthew Sapara, the chief operating officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, will become Mr. Collins’ director of business and economic development. The mayor-elect’s desire to make this post the highest-paid in city government suggests the value he places on it — and the need to show quick results in job creation, business attraction, and downtown renewal.
Mr. Collins’ selection of a Toledo City Council colleague, George Sarantou, as finance director is a welcome expression of bipartisanship. Although Mr. Collins ran as an independent, he attracted Democratic Party support during his general-election campaign. Mr. Sarantou is a Republican — but more important, is knowledgeable about budget issues.
The holdovers Mr. Collins is keeping from the Bell administration include city law director Adam Loukx. That decision might seem perplexing, because Mr. Loukx took part in the administration’s plan to conceal from Toledoans the police department’s map of gang activity in the city — a strategy that was thwarted when The Blade obtained and published the map. Because Mr. Collins properly criticized the city’s stonewalling, Mr. Loukx’s retention should not suggest backsliding from the new mayor’s pledge to run an open, transparent administration.
None of Mr. Collins’ appointees comes from outside the Toledo area. Fresh eyes and a different approach might have benefited the new administration, if there were credible out-of-town candidates.
Mr. Collins’ effort to shrink the size of city government, especially in his own office, suggests the mayor’s commitment to keeping his pledges of economy and accountability. Again, though, what the organization chart looks like will be less important than how well it works.
Already there are complaints that Mr. Collins’ team lacks diversity — that it is too old, too white, too male, too recycled. That is a valid concern, but a number of key mayoral decisions — such as appointing the executive director of the city Board of Community Relations and determining how much authority that person will have — remain to be made.
All Toledoans have a stake in the success of the next mayor and his administration. Critics should withhold final judgment of Mr. Collins’ staffing process until it is complete and has had reasonable time to work.