D. Michael Collins officially became Toledo’s mayor on Thursday with the promise to revive a century-old adage: “You will do better in Toledo.”
“We are going to make this the model that it deserves to be and the brand it once held,” Mayor Collins said.
Mayor Collins was sworn in during a ceremony at One Government Center.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos from the ceremony.
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Shortly afterward, Toledo City Council selected Democratic union official Matt Cherry to replace the new mayor in his District 2 council seat, swore in its six at-large members for new terms, and re-elected Paula Hicks-Hudson as council president.
Mayor Collins admitted he was “nervous” and “numb” before taking the oath of office before about 200 people packed into the lobby of One Government Center.
“As we usher in this new year and this new administration, we will all — every one of us — will be part of the dynamic changes that the future holds in Toledo,” Mayor Collins said moments after taking his oath of office, which was administered by Judge Ruth Ann Franks of Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
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“For our children and our grandchildren to do better in Toledo, they have to have a successfully rewarding career and those careers should be at home. They shouldn't be transported out of Toledo,” he said.
“Our children and our grandchildren should only leave because they want to, not because they have to for economic reasons.”
In a 12-minute speech, Mayor Collins thanked his wife, Sandy Drabik, his children, and eight grandchildren. He also referred to his parents, telling the crowd how his Irish father enlisted in the U.S. Army almost immediately after getting off a boat as an immigrant in New York.
True to his sometimes professorial style, Mayor Collins quoted Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen Richards Covey, an author and businessman, during his speech.
“We will have difficult moments over the next four years but nothing is worth [it], in terms of achievement, if it isn’t worth working for and paying the price and understanding that sacrifice that achievement requires,” Mayor Collins said.
Former Mayor Mike Bell, who was in his office briefly Thursday, did not attend the swearing-in ceremony or the 5:30 p.m. Toledo City Council meeting that followed. His father, Norman Bell, was on hand to wish Mr. Collins well.
“I am part of this community and I want to see him do well,” the elder Mr. Bell said. “If we can all get behind him, we can all push him to do well.”
Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who supported Mr. Collins' campaign and was on his transition team, said his inauguration speech was among the best he had ever witnessed.
“Challenges, history, humility, and hope … and I got caught up in the moment,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “Mike is off to a good start. Now there is a lot of work to do.”
Judge Franks, before she administered the oath, told the crowd that Mr. Collins would work tirelessly for the city.
“The citizens of Toledo have elected a man truly of great integrity, intellect, compassion, fairness, and he has a wild sense of humor,” she said.
Mayor Collins took his seat at council’s organizational meeting, and first witnessed the swearing-in of newly elected councilmen Jack Ford, Sandy Spang, Theresa Gabriel, and Larry Sykes, as well as re-elected incumbents Rob Ludeman and Steven Steel.
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Council appointed its new member to fill the seat vacated by Mr. Collins on just one vote.
Mr. Cherry, 33, business agent for Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 33, was appointed by an 8-3 vote. He was endorsed for the appointment by the Lucas County Democratic Party.
Mike Craig, Lindsay Webb, Tyrone Riley, Ms. Hicks-Hudson, Mr. Ford, Mr. Sykes, and Mr. Steel — all Democrats — along with Ms. Gabriel, a former Republican but now an independent, voted for Mr. Cherry.
Mr. Ludeman and Mr. Waniewski — the only Republicans on council, were joined by Ms. Spang, an independent, in voting for Marcia Helman, owner of Lickity Split ice cream parlor at Glendale Avenue and the Anthony Wayne Trail.
Both Mr. Cherry and Ms. Helman said they would run for the seat during a special election to be held in November.
“I am ready to work with each and every one of you,” Mr. Cherry said upon taking his seat with the 11 other councilmen.
Mr. Cherry said he wants to continue the progress he has seen in South Toledo and find ways to reduce crime.
He said his union employment would not affect his position as a councilman.
Mr. Cherry acknowledged a tragic youthful experience affected him deeply. He was shot in the leg in 1997 when he was 16 as he and a friend left a party in East Toledo. The friend, John Barnhart, who was 20, was shot in the head and killed. Mr. Cherry testified at a 1997 juvenile hearing that the murder victim got in an argument with someone. Mr. Cherry said when someone came out of the home with a gun, he and Mr. Barnhart decided to leave.
In 2008, Mr. Cherry was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol after pleading no contest in Toledo Municipal Court and his license was suspended for one year, though part of the suspension was vacated.
Lucas County Democratic Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said Mr. Cherry disclosed the DUI conviction to the party’s screening committee.
He said the conviction did not exclude Mr. Cherry from the endorsement because “people make mistakes and hopefully won’t make them again.”
Mr. Cherry said he joined the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 33 in 1999. He was elected to the local’s executive board in 2009 and as business agent in 2011.
In September, he was appointed vice president of the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and recently joined the Lucas County Democratic Party Executive Board.
The Sheet Metal Workers union has a reputation for playing political hardball.
In February, Mr. Cherry’s predecessor as vice president of the building trades council and a Local 33 business agent, John Russell, and three other men associated with Local 33, were convicted of unauthorized use of property after being found Nov. 2 in a Local 33 pickup truck and in possession of political signs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Mr. Cherry and his wife, Nicole, whom he married in 2007, have a 3-year-old son.
At the conclusion of the council meeting, Ms. Webb and Mr. Waniewski quipped that Mayor Collins had not yet spoken.
As a councilman, Mr. Collins was sometimes known for tenacity in grilling officials with the Finkbeiner and Bell administrations, as well as sometimes being verbose.
“It was a little awkward Mayor Collins, we went through an entire council meeting and you didn’t say a word,” Mr. Waniewski said.
Mr. Collins had the last word — promising to include council in the decision-making process.
“We will prove that slogan that resonated 100 years ago, ‘You will do better in Toledo,’ is in fact the current slogan in Toledo.”
Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.