COLUMBUS — Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he was saddened Toledo Mayor Mike Bell was not re-elected to another four years but will work with his replacement.
Mayor Bell’s high-profile support of Senate Bill 5 and state Issue 2, the referendum Governor Kasich backed that would have weakened public employee bargaining rights, was a regular theme during this year’s campaign. The referendum was defeated in 2012 after a campaign by unions and the Democratic Party.
Governor Kasich said he had not “spent time going over statistics” to determine if Senate Bill 5 contributed to Mayor Bell’s loss Tuesday.
“I thought he did a lot for the city of Toledo,” the governor told The Blade. “He reduced the debt, balanced the budget. We have a new mayor. I intend to call him and tell him that I will work with him in any way I can to help Toledo.”
Asked whether Senate Bill 5 would be an issue in his own re-election campaign next year, Mr. Kasich said: “I would hope in the election next year that the campaign is about issues and not what we’ve been able to see in the past.”
Mr. Kasich’s expected Democratic opponent is Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins said he would work with the governor. “We have to move forward and I look forward to communicating with the governor,” he said.
Also Thursday, Mr. Collins announced that Bob Reinbolt, chief of staff under former mayor Carty Finkbeiner, would lead his transition team. Also on the team would be Mr. Collins’ wife, Sandy Drabik; his campaign manager, Stephen Leggett; campaign volunteer Nabil Shaheen, whom Mr. Collins said is a local businessman; and Lisa Ward, a City Council legislative aide. Other members will be added.
Democratic leaders across Ohio were near-gloating that supporters of Governor Kasich lost seats Tuesday, as Mayor Bell did, to union-backed Mr. Collins, a district councilman.
The Ohio Democratic Party organized news conferences in Toledo and Dayton to criticize what it called “the governor’s allies” like Mayor Bell and Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell.
Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken and Toledo Federation of Teachers union President Kevin Dalton told reporters the Election Day losses were hits against Mr. Kasich.
“Across Ohio, the 2013 elections can be summed up in five words: Overwhelming losses for Kasich’s friends,” Mr. Dalton said. “But in no corner of Ohio did the governor cast a darker shadow on a municipal race than here in Toledo.
"Make no mistake, Bell was Governor Kasich’s greatest ally in northwest Ohio and that’s a large part of what led to his defeat.”
Thousands of dollars were poured into Mr. Collins’ campaign from unions and a mystery Columbus-based group paid for negative television commercials against Mayor Bell.
Mayor Bell and Mr. Collins are political independents.
Mr. Gerken, a Democrat, said it was fair to criticize the mayor’s relationship with the governor even though Mr. Collins is an independent and opposes some issues typically supported by the Democratic party.
Mr. Collins, a Roman Catholic, said he follows his religion, and thereby opposes abortion and also will not voice support for gay marriage.
“I will follow the law,” he said.
Staff writer Jim Provance contributed to this report.