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Published: Monday, 1/28/2013

Mayor Bell announces re-election bid, touts accomplishments in State of the City speech

BY TOM TROY AND IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell gives the State of the City address to the Toledo Rotary Club. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell gives the State of the City address to the Toledo Rotary Club.
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Toledo Mayor Mike Bell summed up his four years in office and announced his intention to seek another term in his fourth State of the City Address today.

Mr. Bell, speaking to a luncheon meeting of the Downtown Toledo Rotary Club, said his administration had to overcome a deficit but since then has taken on economic development, a rise in crime, needs for street repaving, and improving the efficiency and transparency of city government.

Mr. Bell told the approximately 200 guests at the Park Inn hotel that he took a trip out of town where he could be by himself to decide whether to seek re-election, and said he was loving the peace and anonymity.

"I'm thinking this is a good life," Mr. Bell said, to the laughter of his guests. "But I love my city, and so in closing here I'm just going let you all be the first to know it's my intent to run for mayor again next year," Mr. Bell said. The election is this year, with a primary in September and the general election in November, but the mayor would be sworn in in 2014.

Mr. Bell dwelled heavily on Toledo's alleged low self-esteem, and appealed to people to believe that their city is as good or better than any other city in the United States.

"This is one of the greatest cities in the United States. The hardest part is making people who live here believe in this place, making them believe that we can be something great," Mr. Bell said.

He said Toledo is starting to get attention from outside the region, citing recent business delegations to the city from China and from Texas.

Among his administration's achievements he cited the depositing of $326,000 in the city's rainy day fund.

The news of the politically independent mayor tossing his cap into the ring brought an immediate response from the head of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern.

"Our number one target for 2013," Mr. Redfern tweeted on his Twitter account.

Mr. Bell said the revelations of mismanagement in the Department of Neighborhoods in 2011 forced the administration to make painful changes, but said it had to be done to avoid jeopardizing some $8 million in federal block grants the city receives.

He warned his audience to expect increases in water and sewer rates, something on which he has received resistance from Toledo Council, and said the city is running out of time to fix its water treatment plant, potentially threatening city and regional economic development.

Among his plans for regional economic development, the mayor said he wanted to open a dialog with the mayors of Monroe, Detroit, and Windsor to share efforts and market the region.

Mr. Bell showed a 3-minute video of a CBS This Morning report on $16 billion of Chinese investment in the U.S. Mr. Bell said development of the Marina District, a formerly city owned parcel on the downtown waterfront that he sold to Chinese investors for $3.8 million, is going slowly because the investors are planning for "sustainability."

Democratic City Council President Joe McNamara, who might run for mayor himself, said it was "not appropriate" for the mayor to announce his re-election plans during the speech.

"There is a difference between governance and politics," Mr. McNamara said.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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