THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Toledo mayoral candidate Joe McNamara on Tuesday criticized Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget because of its cutbacks to local government funding, and he took aim at Mayor Mike Bell for supporting the spending plan and for the mayor’s refusal to reopen the Northwest District Police Station in West Toledo.
“If you look at what Toledo’s share of what local government funding has been, it's been around $18 million [a year] under previous governors, then it sank under Governor Kasich, and there is only a small growth,” Mr. McNamara said during a news conference in front of the closed police station on Sylvania Avenue.
“This is about a $9 million difference from what we are used to getting,” he said. “With $9 million there would be no excuse not to reopen this station.”
Mr. McNamara criticized Mayor Bell for supporting the governor's budget on Feb. 21 when Mr. Kasich was in Toledo for the Lucas County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner.
“Mayor Bell shouldn't be endorsing a budget that is bad for Toledo,” Mr. McNamara said. “He should be advocating for Toledo. ... The mayor of Toledo needs to be a buddy to the people who live in this neighborhood first before he is a buddy to the governor.”
Mr. McNamara said people who live in West Toledo want the station reopened.
“That mayor said ‘crime has gone down’ but it is not just about crime. It is about neighborhood stability,” he said. “People like living near fire stations and police stations and it creates that perception of safety. It creates that neighborhood anchor.”
During the February GOP event, Mr. Bell said he supported the governor’s budget plan and the Medicaid expansion.
“I actually am largely supportive of it because I think there will be some benefits to northwest Ohio. We have to come up with creative ways of doing things,” Mr. Bell said at the event. “We can’t do it by raising taxes, and so I think he’s trying to be creative, I think he’s thinking outside of the box.
"At this particular time in history, that’s sort of what you have to do,” the mayor said.
Mr. Bell said Toledo benefits by his relationship with the governor.
Jen Sorgenfrei, Mr. Bell's spokesman, said the mayor supports the Medicaid expansion and other things in the budget.
“I think the primary reason he supports the budget is because they have found a way to support the Medicaid expansion,” she said. “The proposed budget does not cut funds to local government any further and if you look at transportation, it finds a way to maintain control of the Ohio Turnpike and directs more money to northwest Ohio for infrastructure improvements.”
Ms. Sorgenfrei said the mayor would not reopen the west side station.
“We look for other ways to provide a police presence for that neighborhood,” she said. “As a result, crime has decreased in that neighborhood. ... I think the perception of safety is different than real safety and it is not a good use of city resources to have a feel-good measure.”
The station was closed last summer because of budget cuts.
In January, Toledo City Council voted 9-3 in favor of allocating $100,000 for the district station at 2330 Sylvania Ave., despite Mayor Bell’s assertion that he would not reopen the building and staff it with police officers.
Voting against the measure were Lindsay Webb, Adam Martinez, and Mike Craig.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.