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Published: Monday, 10/21/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

COMMENTARY

Class or slime in last weeks?

Mayoral campaign heads into last two-week push

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

Two weeks to go.

The campaign for mayor now heads into the home stretch. So, in the coming days, will we see some class, or will we see slime?

By class I mean: Respect. Respect for the opponent. And respect for voters.

Last week’s major neighborhood forum — sponsored by the Broadway Corridor Coalition — was not hopeful. And neither is the first TV ad, aired by Mr Bell.

In the forum, the two candidates for mayor vented their obvious dislike for each other. It might have been useful in a group therapy session, which is what it felt like. But I don’t think it did much for citizens concerned about their neighborhood and their community.

Who won that debate? I heard a guy ask his companion this in the parking lot. “Jack Ford,” came the reply.

Former Mayor Ford, running for a City Council seat this year, got big applause when his name was mentioned by a citizen questioning the candidates for mayor and bigger applause when he spoke.

Maybe that’s because he spoke of problems he’d like to tackle (housing, blight, and duplication of programs) and of his colleague candidates and their talents and concerns.

The other big winner of the night was Sandy Spang, a newcomer running for Council. She was sincere and passionate. She thinks outside the box. She puts no one down. Like Mr. Ford, Ms. Spang praised the other Council candidates who spoke that night — Steve Steel, Adam Martinez, and Rob Ludeman. Those five Council candidates might serve as a model for the mayoral candidates — they were collaborative, modest, and deferential. Mr. Ford from one generation and mindset, and Ms. Spang from another, might be able, especially together, to build some bridges and find some creative solutions.

Messrs Bell and Collins left that room with less enthusiasm and support than when the night began. So the attack mode isn’t working.

Of course, a mayor’s race is different from a City Council race. It’s a one-on-one fight — more like a boxing match than a basketball game. You have to draw the distinctions, not the similarities. But we need distinctions of policy, not pique.

Besides, governing is basketball. One of these men will have to govern.

In another forum, earlier in the day, I heard Mr. Ford describe the competitive yet professional and constructive relationship he had with former Gov. Bob Taft when Mr. Ford was head of the House Democrats in Columbus. He lamented today’s loss of civility. So do the voters. Ask Anita Lopez and Joe McNamara.

The Bell TV ad, which attacks Mr. Collins and attempts to make him look like a cranky old man, is more of the same snarkiness. It contributes nothing but bile to the race. I hope the mayor will pull the ad and tell us what he is for.

I’d like to see Mayor Bell talk about what he might do different administratively in a second term, especially in the Department of Neighborhoods.

I’d like to see Mr. Collins discuss the kind of person he would appoint as chief of staff.

I’d like to see a Bell TV commercial that tells us how the mayor plans to move us forward and a Collins commercial that says: Here’s the hope; here’s the change.

Both candidates signed the Blade’s clean campaign pledge. The spirit, as well as the letter, of that pledge is on the line.

Nobody wants to see any more of The Bickersons. A lot of us want to see some vision.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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