Toledo is about to embark on another change of municipal power from one mayor to another, and the city is in for a process intended to give the public and key city constituencies plenty of opportunity to weigh in.
Mayor-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz, who defeated incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson in the election Nov. 7, will outline his transition plans at a news conference 2 p.m. Monday at his campaign headquarters, 500 Madison Ave. He said he’s calling the transition Our City Our Future.
“I believe that this will be a helpful process that first of all will produce some tangible ideas. Maybe just as importantly I’m hoping that it produces a sense of engagement among the public,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said Friday.
Wade Kapszukiewicz makes his victory speech for the the mayorship during his election night event at his campaign's headquarters at the Gardner Building in Toledo on Nov. 7.
He appointed Michael Beazley, who is Oregon city administrator, wealth manager Rita Mansour, and businessman Will Lucas to lead the transition.
Mr. Beazley said he hopes the transition facilitates some real listening and planning.
“There will be a process for bringing people together to listen. My concern, having been either an active participant or an observer, is that a lot of times there have been committees without a lot of outcomes. We don’t want to have a committee for a committee’s sake,” Mr. Beazley said.
Ms. Mansour said the goal is to feed the economic momentum felt by the city now.
“I think we’re just trying to find efficiencies within the government, city and county government; really kind of ramp up the view of our city. We’re on the rise and we need to take advantage of it,” Ms. Mansour said.
The same three people were named by Mr. Kapszukiewicz early in his campaign to head up a task force aimed at merging “redundant” city and county functions, such as building inspection and economic development.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the transition will have four components. One component is occurring behind the scenes with daily meetings — as many as four or five a day — that he is having with key figures, including county commissioners and city council members.
A website, ourcityourfuture.org, to be activated Monday, will be used to solicit public input, ideas, suggestions, and employment resumes, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
There will be a Policy Action Forum that will hold an open discussion 9-11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 9. It will include prominent representatives from across the spectrum in northwest Ohio. Those assembled will share their vision and know-how on implementing the mayor-elect's campaign platform, including clean and affordable water, road repairs, safe neighborhoods, and confidence in the city's budget, the campaign said.
“At the end of all of that we’re going to have gathered a lot of information. It’s going to be compiled into a report that they will present to me and allow me to hit the ground running as I head for January,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
Since the onset of Toledo’s “strong mayor” form of government in 1993, elaborate transitions between mayors have become a staple of the city’s politics. The Kapszukiewicz transition is similar to some of the transitions of the past.
In 2001, the late Jack Ford assembled seven committees to make the change from two four-year terms under Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to Mr. Ford’s administration. He called its report "The Ford Plan 2002."
In the 2005 transition from Mayor Ford to Mayor Finkbeiner's third term, the incoming Finkbeiner administration started out by requesting letters of resignation from 82 political appointees of Mayor Ford. Of the 82, 29 resigned or were fired.
Mayor Mike Bell, in launching his transition in 2009 to take over after Mayor Finkbeiner’s third term, used a sports analogy to explain the purpose of the transition. The former University of Toledo football player said, "It's great to get the coaching job, but you've got to get the team up and running."
Mr. Bell put together a 31-person group , with representatives from banking, automotive, labor, religious, neighborhood, and education groups. It also included a "citizens special investigation" task force to audit the city's financial realities.
After defeating Mayor Bell in 2013, Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins appointed former mayors Ford and Finkbeiner to help co-chair his transition. Mr. Collins had 45 people serving on various committees.
Possibly lost in the shuffle of that transition was knowledge about $8 million that had been deposited by the Bell administration in a debt service account for a future pay-off of the debt on new garbage trucks. The $8 million and its unclear purpose became a centerpiece of Mr. Kapszukiewicz’s case against the Hicks-Hudson administration.
Transitions are where the incoming mayor’s staff begins to take definite shape.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said his administration will be a mix of local and national talent. He said he plans a national search for his finance and economic development directors and a chief of staff.
A spokesman said Angela Lucas, who was Mr. Kapszukiewicz's campaign finance manager, will be part of the new administration.
Gretchen DeBacker, a Toledo lawyer who ran for the Democratic candidate for Toledo Municipal Court judge in 2003 and Mr. Kapszukiewicz's campaign manager, confirmed Ms. Lucas will work for the city.
"Angela is a valued member of the team and will have some role in the administration,” she said.
Staff Writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.
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