GOOD friends: I will begin by restating what I have expressed many times previously. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Toledo eight years as a councilman, two years as vice mayor, and 12 years as your mayor.
During each of these 22 years, I have felt both blessed and grateful to have such an opportunity to serve my fellow citizens. And, I have never, ever put that service second to any other call at times much to the frustration of my family. This past week, for example, as Finkbeiners from California, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio gathered in Hyannis Port, Mass., for a once-a-decade reunion, Amy and I remained in Toledo to work on the contract with the Toledo police patrolmen and the independent investigation of the fire in the Westmoreland neighborhood. I did, however, talk with my brothers and cousins, nieces, and nephews by phone long distance every night of the week. They understood.
When I was considering running for mayor during the Christmas holidays of 2004, my daughters, their husbands, and my wife all questioned my motivation. In March of that year, I had quadruple heart bypass surgery. I felt terrific, but my family wanted no part of another mayoral term. We reached no conclusion that December, 2004, but I made one promise to them If I run and win, I ll serve but only one term. I have been asked to reconsider, but none of those persons are family members.
Toledoans, we have a dynamic community. The entire world, including Toledo, is in an economic malaise. We are in transition from an industrial-driven economy to a knowledge-based information era. We shall survive, but we must put an even greater emphasis on education and learning.
Toledo is making that transition thanks to our universities and colleges, plus our wonderful position as one of the most advanced alternative energy centers in the country. Due to the inspired work of the late Harold McMaster we are the solar capital of the nation and we must work diligently to keep that ranking.
Our art museum places us in the vanguard of cities our size in the cultural arts, thanks to the generosity and vision of Edward Drummond Libbey and his wife.
And the abundant, low-cost water of the Great Lakes will return population and prosperity to Ohio and Michigan. However, without a positive mental attitude, individuals and communities never reach their full potential. There is ample room for improvement in our self-confidence, and our positive vision of Toledo s full potential. Toledo must be willing to take a few risks and support risk-takers, like Michael Owens and Harold McMaster. The world is home to the teeming masses but is uplifted by visionary risk-takers. I urge Toledoans and elected officials to remember that.
To my friends, supporters, and citizens/voters, a very heartfelt, Thank You. Over 35 years, we have been spiritually and mentally joined at the hip, and your faith has been deeply appreciated. To my critics, I quote the revered Abe Lincoln: I care nothing about clamors, sir. I do precisely what I think is right.
Or the defining words of Theodore Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
And I would proudly remind each of you that my three mayoral terms included:
• The new Jeep plants
• Owens Corning world headquarters
• Dana Commercial Credit Corp., now home to ProMedica
• Significant additions to Toledo Hospital and St. Vincent Medical Center
• wThe Docks and a revitalized International Park
• wFifth Third Field
• Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway
• A new State Correctional Facility, and 450 new jobs
• The Marina District
• A revitalized and once-empty Commodore Perry, Hillcrest Hotel, Toledo Trust building, Lasalle building, and One Lake Erie Center
• A new Veterans Glass City Skyway Bridge
• A rebuilt King Bridge
• Began restoration of Fiberglas Tower
• The return of COSI as Imagination Station
• The retention of HCR ManorCare
• The transition of Health Care REIT to the Dana complex
• The relocation of Fifth Third Bank to One SeaGate Center
• Expanded regionalism by extending water service to all of Lucas and Fulton counties
• Added four Joint Economic Development Zones
• Supported the merger of Toledo-Lucas County Health Departments
• A razed Southwyck mall and improved Reynolds Road
• A Railroad Intermodal in South Toledo
• A census gain of 17,600 citizens
• Paving of 40 street miles annually
• The nurturing of flowers throughout Toledo
• A reduction in crime of 18 percent from 2006 to early 2009
• Cost-cutting of $50 million from the city budget during the last two years
• All-America City Award in 1998, and All-America City finalist 2000 and 2009
• Top 10 City of the Future, 2007/2008, fDi Magazine, April, 2007
• Most Business Friendly City, 2007/2008, fDi Magazine, April, 2007
• Most Liveable City, 2008, Third Place, United Nations
• During my 11 years as mayor, we created 19,403 jobs and retained 26,185 jobs, and $3.86 billion in new capital investment took place.
Toledoans, I thank you from the bottom of both Amy s and my hearts for the opportunity to serve you. It was a dream, back in 1993 when I was first elected mayor, and I shall always be grateful to you and the Almighty for this gift.
While I have not yet finished the race, I continue to retain my passion for Toledo, and I always will.
Now I will keep that promise to my loved ones and myself. I shall not run for mayor this fall.
God bless each of you, and may God always bless a city called Toledo.
In a July 12 letter, a writer asked Ben Konop to not worry about identifying 4-inch waterlines and to worry about bringing businesses and jobs to Toledo. The writer stated: What is it going to change if someone knows they have a 4-inch main in their neighborhood? It s not going to put the fire out any faster. We all know there is no money to pay to replace the lines. What is it going to change? For starters, it will make the brave men and women of the Toledo fire department safer in trying to battle a fire. Additionally, it will allow homeowners to know that when the city has the money, they can pressure the city to ensure that their waterlines are upgraded.
Everyone knows that this area needs jobs, new ideas, and a break from the past.
Mr. Konop and the other candidates are doing their part to try and make this happen. But part of the duties of mayor is to help protect citizens, and that is exactly what Mr. Konop is doing. A better question for this writer to ask would have been how Mike Bell was Toledo fire chief for 17 years and didn t come up with a better way of identifying less-than-adequate lines, if for no other reason than to protect the lives of the firefighters he was in charge of.