“You will do better in Toledo.”
A lot of us have that T-shirt or bumper sticker. It’s true. Almost any American from any other part of the country could do better in Toledo.
But can Toledo do better with its politics?
Can we occasionally question, challenge, or even topple the status quo?
If not, we have a problem.
Development in the business and industrial community over the last two to three years has been characterized by accountability and imagination. Downtown is booming and there is fresh hope in East Toledo, UpTown, and old South Toledo. (West Toledo and the Southwyck area still have a troubling amount of empty land and buildings.)
No parallel progress has been made in city politics and government.
City government has a competence problem and city politics lacks new faces and new ideas. Our local politics is suffused with apathy and resignation — things will never change, this is Toledo.
Only in our government and politics is this old millstone still around the city’s neck.
A primary vote in which 25,000 people vote (13.3 percent of registered voters) and two Democrats emerge as the final choice feeds into the apathy. It amounts to a collective shrug.
Toledo cannot do better at politics and government if the status quo is forever firmly entrenched.
The bright side is that many who voted for Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson may have been affirming the economic development and the progress we have seen in the private sector.
And many who voted for County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz to be a final contender for mayor this year may have been voting for accountability, relative youth, and at least a little change, as well as basic administrative competence. Mr. Kapszukiewicz has made an issue of competence, and he has made it a point to issue policy positions and papers in a city that sometimes seems immune to the expression of actual thought in political speech.
There are also some new, fresh faces running for city council, which desperately needs fresh blood.
But we cannot change city government, we cannot improve it, we cannot help it to catch up to the business sector if more citizens do not inform themselves, involve themselves and, at the very least, vote. Low participation leaves Toledo politics and government to the usual suspects, and the usual dreary results.
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