Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins launched his campaign for mayor Wednesday, focusing on his career-long interest in public safety.
Mr. Collins, 68, an independent, was joined by a couple dozen supporters outside the shuttered Toledo Police northwest district station on Sylvania Avenue, which he vowed to reopen within 90 days of taking office.
“I have spent a majority of my adult life as a crime fighter. I can tell you that a community cannot grow until its citizens feel safe,” Mr. Collins said. “The closing of this station in 2012 by the current mayor’s administration is another example of how out of touch this administration is with the needs of its citizens. This station is needed not just for the citizens of West Toledo, but as an integral part of an effective police operation in the City of Toledo.”
He enters a campaign that already had six candidates, and hopes to perform better than when he came in fourth in the 2009 mayoral primary.
Mr. Collins has made a name for himself as a bulldog on council, frequently challenging Mayor Mike Bell’s administration over spending and just about every other issue.
Among those backing Mr. Collins at his announcement event was Ron Scanlon, a fellow retired Toledo police officer and unsuccessful Republican candidate for city council in the 1990s who called Mr. Collins, “a man of integrity, honesty, straightforwardness.”
“The community needs someone more business-oriented [than Mr. Bell],” Mr. Scanlon said. “I think he'd be excellent. Something’s got to be done to turn the community around.”
Mr. Collins was a police officer for 28 years, including 10 years as president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association union. He has a master's of business administration from the University of Toledo where he has taught part-time. Mr. Collins, who lives on Heatherwood Drive in South Toledo, represents city council District 2.
He claimed the city has experienced a rise in serious crime since the start of Mr. Bell’s term. He acknowledged that Toledo tax revenues have rebounded under Mayor Bell, but “not enough.”
Already in the race are Mayor Bell, a political independent; Democratic Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez; Democratic Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara; Republican evangelist Opal Covey; retired city worker and Libertarian Michael Konwinski, and city neighborhoods specialist and union president Alan Cox, a political independent.
The top two vote-getters to emerge from the Sept. 10 primary will face off in the November election.
Mayor Bell said Mr. Collins “talks a lot of rhetoric with zero facts.” He said crime is down in the city year-to-date by about 24 percent, but did not address a comparison with when he took office in 2010.
He said Mr. Collins is mistaken in thinking that opening a district office makes a difference in safety. “It’s about deploying personnel. Him being a safety person, he should know that,” Mr. Bell said.
“Everything works here. The budget is balanced, crime is lower, we’re fixing the streets,” the mayor said.
Mr. McNamara welcomed Mr. Collins to the race with an invitation to him to sign his pledge agreeing to accept no contributions from city employees who work for him or campaign help from city workers during normal business hours.
“I look forward to a productive discussion about the best ways to create jobs and reduce violent crime,” Mr. McNamara said.
Ms. Lopez issued a statement that “the city is moving in the wrong direction under the current leadership at the city. I believe the city will do better and must do better than what the current leadership at the city provides, and I believe that I am the right candidate to move the city in the right direction.”
Asked whether he would join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's coalition of mayors’ petition to get rid of assault weapons, Mr. Collins declined, saying there are gun laws that could be better enforced, such as the ban on possession of weapons by people in certain categories.
“The carnage that’s created on our streets today because of weapons is not a singular issue. It is a more complex issue than the simple banning of guns,” Mr. Collins said.
Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@the blade.com or 419-724-6058.