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Published: Monday, 12/23/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Campaign manager to lead special projects

Collins picks 26-year-old for public service

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Stephen Leggett was Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins’ campaign manager. He is to be the commissioner of special projects in the city’s Department of Public Service in the Collins administration. Stephen Leggett was Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins’ campaign manager. He is to be the commissioner of special projects in the city’s Department of Public Service in the Collins administration.
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At 26 years old, Stephen Leggett is the youngest person on Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins’ staff.

Mr. Leggett, who was the incoming mayor’s campaign manager, will be commissioner of special projects in the Department of Public Service. He is enthusiastic about working on the new mayor’s team.

“I just look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work for the citizens of Toledo,” Mr. Leggett said. “We have a long way to go, but we are going to make this city a world-class city.”

Mr. Leggett said he developed a commitment to community service as a teenager.

While still in high school, he organized residents in his South Toledo neighborhood to plant flowering cherry trees along the 4100 to 4300 blocks of South Detroit Avenue after contractors for Toledo Edison trimmed old shade trees’ branches into an unsightly mess.

He said he was able to reach an agreement with the utility in which Edison cut down the trees and the city removed the stumps, which were replaced with cherry trees that had been paid for by neighborhood residents.

“What made it wonderful was that it solved the problem. The cherry trees would never get tall enough to get into Edison’s lines,” he said. “We got rid of the butchered-up trees, and at the same time we made the neighborhood look better.

"It really wound up being a win-win for everybody.”

A lifelong Toledo resident, Mr. Leggett has strong ties to the city. His father is a mechanic in fleet operations in the city.

A 2006 graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School, Mr. Leggett received a double degree in political science and geography, with a concentration in urban planning, from the University of Toledo in 2010.

Two years later, he was awarded a master’s degree in public service.

While working toward his master’s degree, Mr. Leggett was an intern for nine months in the public-service department, during which he completed a comprehensive report on street light outages that showed roughly one quarter of Toledo’s lamps were not working.

That finding drew the attention of Councilman Collins, who began an inquiry into why the city assesses residents and businesses for costs of all lights.

“Yet the city was paying 100 percent. They are not metered and tied directly into the grid,” Mr. Leggett said. “We are paying for it whether it is lit or not. At the time, the city didn’t have a lot of money to do anything.

“That was something we could do to get something done for the citizens.”

Mr. Leggett said he hopes to employ sound urban planning in his work for the city.

“I would like to see downtown development so the city becomes more vibrant. We need to tie sound urban-planning principles with Mr. Collins’ concepts of tidy towns."

“Urban planning can be used to instill a sense of pride in the community. It can make a community beautiful,” he said.

Mr. Collins spoke highly of Mr. Leggett.

“He has very unique qualities that are not consistent with many people his age,” Mr. Collins said. “He doesn’t have the experience to grasp onto a position like city manager at this time, but the opportunity he is being afforded to be mentored by Bill Franklin will give him a broad-brush approach to the city.”

The new mayor plans to assign Mr. Leggett the task of creating a 311 system for Toledo. Such a system could handle nonemergency calls for city services, such as public utilities and pothole repair, or even non-emergency police calls, depending on how it is configured.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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