In his first speech as mayor of Toledo, Wade Kapszukiewicz asked for help.
“I’m challenging Toledoans to do good for Toledo this year. We need your help,” he told a crowd gathered Tuesday to watch him take his oath of office at the Government Center downtown. “Everyone in Toledo has to play a role in the future we are trying to build, because we all have a stake in it.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz, 45, was officially sworn in as Toledo’s 58th mayor with his family by his side. He spoke of change and a reinventing of the city he now leads. He said he wants to err on the side of action, rather than being content with the status quo.
“No one will feel sorry for us if we don’t do what it takes to become the city we all know we can be,” he told the audience.
He quoted William Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar” to illustrate his point: “Men at times are masters of their fate. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.”
“In other words, we are responsible for our own decisions. We’re responsible for our own future,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz continued. “I don’t know if Toledo is going to take advantage of the opportunity that it has, but if it doesn’t, it will be our fault.”
The former Lucas County Treasurer, Mr. Kapszukiewicz will move from his office on the fifth floor of the Government Center to the mayor’s office on floor 22 at 8 a.m. Wednesday. He defeated incumbent Paula Hicks-Hudson in the Nov. 7 election, with more than 55 percent of the vote cast in his favor.
“You have no learning curve,” councilman Lindsay Webb told the new mayor Tuesday evening. “You have to get to work right away.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz in an interview after his speech said his initial priorities include working toward building a regional water system, streamlining the city’s building permit system, and consolidating departments.
“Every business person that I have talked to, from Michael Thaman, the CEO of Owens Corning, to mom and pop business owners, every single one has complained about the permit system,” he said. “I’m committed to fixing that.”
Next on his list include pursuing partnerships with Metroparks Toledo and Lucas County Land Bank, and more broadly the new mayor talked about his goals to make city government more efficient. He said the administration needs to reform, adapt, and do things differently in order to carry on the city’s momentum of revitalization.
“It has been city government that has held Toledo back from being everything that it could be,” he said. “The private sector has done its part. The philanthropic community has done its part. City government has not done its part.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz was sworn in by Toledo Municipal Court Judge Michelle Wagner, who praised his “unmatched energy and enthusiasm.” She said the new mayor and his administration comes from a generation of tolerance and inclusion that embraces technology and adapts well to change and advancement.
“I look at this administration and I see diversity of gender, race, religion, age, ethnicity, and orientation,” she said. “I know our new mayor has put a great deal of thought into assembling his team, and he has surrounded himself with some of the best minds and the hardest workers in northwest Ohio.”
After the mayor’s oath of office, six members of Toledo City Council were sworn in during council’s first meeting of 2018.
Newcomers Nick Komives and Gary Johnson joined Councilmen Sandy Spang, Rob Ludeman, Cecelia Adams, and Larry Sykes — who were re-elected — in taking their oath of office.
Councilman Matt Cherry, who represents District 2, was elected council president by an 11-1 vote. Councilman Cecilia Adams was nominated by Mr. Komives and cast the lone vote for herself. Mr. Komives ultimately cast his vote for Mr. Cherry.
Councilmen Spang, Sykes, and Tyrone Riley also had expressed interest in the president’s seat, although none were nominated Tuesday.
The council president is paid a $4,500 stipend in addition to the $27,500 council salary. He runs the bi-weekly meetings, sets the council agenda, and appoints committee chairmen. He also becomes the mayor in the event of the resignation, removal, or death of the current mayor, who makes $122,400 a year.
Mr. Cherry, 37, is a business representative for Sheet metal Workers Local 33 union. He said he is a teambuilder and as council president will work with all of council and the administration.
“I think communication is No. 1 with the administration,” he said. “I think there definitely was a lack thereof, and I’m hoping the new administration can work with council members to develop legislation and policy that works for everyone.”
Mr. Cherry also said he wants to restructure council committees to better play to the strenghths of each councilman and will focus on spending taxpayer money wisely.
“There’s a time in the city right now that we have major momentum rolling,” he said. “Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson did a really good job of keeping the ball rolling, and we need to continue that legacy and capitalize on every moment we have.”
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