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Mayor exhorts citizens to appreciate positives

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Mayor Carty Finkbeiner outlines the ongoing development in Toledo during his State of the City address last night.

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Extolling development under way - from shopping areas to hospitals to the new Maumee River crossing - and exhorting Toledoans to show pride and confidence, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in his "State of the City" address proclaimed optimism in the city's future.

"That future will be bright if Toledoans work and act with pride and confidence," Mr. Finkbeiner told about 500 political, civic, business, and neighborhood leaders at the Owens Corning World Headquarters and to a television audience.

Much of the mayor's address was a virtual tour - photos and graphics projected on a screen - of major projects, such as expansions at Toledo Hospital, St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, and Westfield Franklin Park plus the redevelopment of Westgate Village Shopping Center.

"I was surprised he brought so many investors to the city of Toledo. I'm surprised he has that many things working at once," said Joshua Roesch, 16, a freshman at Bowsher High.

He was impressed by the mayor's goal to attract and keep young professionals, as he one day hopes to be. "I really want to stay here anyway," Joshua said. "The problem is, will there be a job here?"

Councilman Joe McNamara said he looks forward to the mayor's plans for bringing back - or retaining - young professionals "because we have shifted to a creative economy, where there's a premium on ideas and invention."

Council President Rob Ludeman called the mayor's talk "more of a big-picture" speech in contrast to past addresses that listed the number of potholes filled and trees trimmed.

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken called the speech "the best I've ever seen," out of the dozen he's attended as a councilman and commissioner.

"The county commissioners, I think, will join this chorus with him," he said. "There's a lot of good going on here. It's time to raise your eyes off your feet and look up straight ahead because this is a great community."

Mr. Finkbeiner said schools in Toledo are among the best in an urban setting in the nation. He said the schools must get better, and "good enough isn't good enough."

Vera Sanders, 47, a Toledo native, said after the speech the city has enough bright minds to revitalize Toledo. But "the most important part to attract people here is to have an excellent school system," she said.

Some criticized the speech for what it did not mention.

Councilman Frank Szollosi said he was disappointed Mr. Finkbeiner didn't announce his intention to hire an economic development director. Mr. Szollosi has been critical of the mayor's insistence on serving as his own development chief since he took office Jan. 3.

Mr. McNamara said he was disappointed that the mayor did not mention the city's $10.6 million general operating fund deficit. Mr. McNamara did like the mayor's plan to have citizens be part of a new city budget process through surveys and town hall meetings.

Keith Wilkowski, a former mayoral candidate who was co-chairman of Mr. McNamara's recent campaign, said Mr. Finkbeiner didn't mention public safety, "which is obviously key to building strong neighborhoods," and didn't mention the kinds of changes the city would have to make to attract high-technology jobs.

"It was a good, traditional Carty rah-rah speech. We need some of that," he said. "But it was light on those other things."

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.

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