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Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2005

Will Toledo's future mayor be a character or reveal it?

Since we're coming up on our "mayoring season" (some would say we're already waaay deep into it, official "kick-off" declarations aside), what an amusement this week to glance at Time magazine.

The current issue features the newsweekly's picks for best and worst big-city U.S. mayors.

Jack Ford, in case you were wondering, is on neither list. Then again, Toledo is just a medium-sized city, so I guess that makes it pretty much a wash for Jack.

But reading portraits of the nation's best mayors - well, OK, mayors so regarded by one magazine - made me wonder which descriptions would fit our current and/or any of our wannabe mayors.

Let me quote from these descriptions. Then you can play a little parlor game by trying to figure out which of the folks who want to occupy our city hall might ever fit any of these descriptions.

Who might best now match (or, um, possibly have matched in the past) these words written about Windy City's Richard Daley?

"He wields near Imperial power, and most of Chicago would have it no other way Daley's unchecked power sometimes short-circuits public debate."

And does anyone locally have anything in common with Atlanta's Shirley Franklin?

"Franklin is not just a rampaging reformer but also a skillful and diplomatic negotiator."

Tell me which of our mayoral hopefuls might one day be described similarly to Denver's John Hickenlooper, who enjoys an eye-popping 75 percent voter approval rating.

"That Hickenlooper cruised to victory may suggest that Denver citizens would vote for anyone who promised cheap parking (a pledge on which he delivered)."

Now, Baltimore's Martin O'Malley is probably best known by fellow mayors for tightening the screws on accountability of city services, but voters are more inclined to remember his sweeping gestures - of concern and political genius.

"Each time [Baltimore got hit with two blizzards], he had city workers phone as many as 25,000 elderly residents to ensure they were OK. Then he had cops punch through drifts, carrying bread, milk, and toilet paper to those seniors running low."

And then there's New York City's Michael Bloomberg - the billionaire whose campaign slogan might as well have been Vote for Me: I Don't Need The Job - who Time says racked up a list of noteworthy accomplishments in short order.

"Perhaps most impressively, Bloomberg has managed to do that while being 'the first mayor in a long time who has not been a polarizing figure,' as [an urban planning professor] puts it."

Yeah, OK. I know. We're just one city, and those are so many mayors from elsewhere.

Still, a girl can dream, can't she?

Besides, as the newsweekly astutely points out:

"The best mayors in U.S. history have been great characters - showman and radicals and bullies and rebels. Then again, so have the worst."



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