Mayor Carty Finkbeiner intends to reappoint Jerry Chabler, an outspoken member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, to the port authority board of directors.
The mayor confirmed last night that he will announce Mr. Chabler's appointment to a four-year term at a news conference today.
After two weeks of considering who he would place on the board, Mr. Finkbeiner lauded Mr. Chabler's work on the board.
“It's simple: He's done a good job,” the mayor said. Mr. Chabler has contributed a business background to the board and has been a constructive critic of port activity, the mayor said. Mr. Chabler was past president of Toltest, a Toledo construction and environmental testing firm.
“I think, frankly, that we need to have the business voice on the port board asking questions,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.
Mr. Chabler, 66, was appointed in 1999 to fill the final two years of the term of former board member Edward Shultz. The mayor called Mr. Chabler last night with the news.
“I thanked the mayor for the confidence he placed in me, and I indicated to him I would continue to serve on the board as an advocate for accountability and change,” Mr. Chabler said.
The mayor raised some eyebrows last week when he acknowledged that he considered appointing himself to fill Mr. Chabler's seat.
He said he first had to evaluate the job Mr. Chabler has done against the qualifications of three people who are interested in the job.
He declined to say who those three candidates were.
The port authority is overseen by a board of 13 unpaid citizens. Six are appointed by the mayor with city council approval, and sixare appointed by the Lucas County commissioners. The final board member is jointly appointed by the city and county.
Mr. Chabler's tough questioning of port staff and other board members instills a healthy and necessary debate to the port board, Mr. Finkbeiner said. Other board members have told the mayor that Mr. Chabler's questions “have served a very important role on the board.”
Mr. Chabler's detractors claim he's a media grandstander, while his supporters say he's a plain-talker interested in reforming the agency.
Mr. Chabler said last night that he will continue to “advocate for what I think is right.” He said one of his goals in the next four years is to continue to push for more flights and business at Toledo Express Airport.
Mr. Finkbeiner said he has talked with Mr. Chabler and other port board members about working together to push for an improved shipping channel connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, including the widening of the series of locks and channels that make up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
An improved seaway would allow Toledo and other Great Lakes ports to better compete with saltwater ports on the coasts.
Mr. Finkbeiner said he expects Mr. Chabler to continue to do a good job, in part because he wants to do so.
“A big part of doing something well is wanting the position and wanting to do something well,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.