Mayor Mike Bell and Councilman D. Michael Collins tangled over whether Police Chief Derrick Diggs should be kept on in the next administration, in a live debate today on Fox Toledo that covered the spectrum from public safety to economic development and whether to reduce taxes.
In what is probably their last televised face-off before the voters make a final decision on Nov. 5, the two independent candidates also disagreed over whether Toledo should postpone Halloween trick-or-treating from Thursday night, with Mr. Collins saying the mayor would not postpone the event because it was a problem for city unions, and Mayor Bell saying city unions had nothing to do with his decision.
"Mayor Bell should have moved it to Saturday. It's the logical thing to do. I don’t know why he didn’t," Mr. Collins said, saying he discussed it with the head of the Toledo police officers' union.
Mr. Bell insisted that it was not an overtime issue, since the police department operates around the clock.
"We can do that anytime. The issue is whether the weather’s going to be bad enough. We’re waiting to see what this weather is. At 12 o'clock tomorrow we’re going to make a statement," the mayor said.
Mr. Collins, who has said previously that he would replace Chief Diggs said in answer to a question that he would have a discussion with the chief to determine their future together, if he is elected.
“We will have a discussion about where his loyalties are and what his plans are. I don’t believe I will summarily ask him to leave,” Mr. Collins said. But he said later in the debate that he would order the chief to reopen the northwest district police station - something Mayor Bell and Chief Diggs have agreed is not necessary for combating crime in that area.
Mayor Bell lauded Chief Diggs’ rise through the department from sergeant.
“He’s got the department feeling good about themselves. He’s a person who could go anywhere else in the United States,” Mr. Bell said.
The debate was staged by WTOL-TV, Channel 11, and co-sponsored by the Toledo Free Press. It was aired only on WUPW-TV, Channel 36.