Wade Kapszukiewicz is running for mayor. His pitch is two-fold: First, if he is elected mayor there will be competence at Government Center. Potholes will be filled; budgets balanced. Someone will get back to you if you call the mayor’s office, be ye a corporate titan, a young entrepreneur, or a retiree living on a fixed income. Maybe even the mayor himself will call back. (Why not?)
Second, the mayor will no longer manage decline. He will try grand things, even if a few of those initiatives fail.
Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz announced his candidacy for mayor of Toledo during a news conference Tuesday.
It’s an intelligent, maybe even necessary, message.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz, the Democratic Lucas County treasurer and former city councilman, announced Tuesday that, along with Republican Councilman Tom Waniewski, he will challenge incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson in the primary.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz has a decent initial platform beyond those two big themes: He wants city-county consolidation of some basic functions, like IT and building inspections, which he says is a no-brainer, has been done in most cities our size and larger, and will save hundreds of thousands of dollars. He wants priority-based budgeting actually applied and not just chewed over conceptually. He wants to do “whatever is necessary” to keep exurban towns in a regional water partnership and create intake and processing redundancies. And, this is his “moonshot,” he wants the city to commit to universal preschool for all of Toledo’s children, arguing that it will help immeasurably with academic achievement, down the line.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz says we need to think big and not be afraid to try new initiatives if we want to restore Toledo to greatness, and maybe even make it a model, midsize city of the 21st century.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz also wants to make the city more beautiful: create pocket parks and unify bike trails and, yes, plants trees and flowers. But also, he promises to enforce the blight ordinances, on a large and small scale. He says the city has been inexcusably timid about enforcement, for lack of inspectors and because of an overly cautious (and political?) law department. He’s right about that.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz is also right when he says that city leaders have failed to do their part while private-sector leaders, philanthropists, and the Metroparks of the Toledo Area have taken the lead in pursuing a vision of a revitalized, thriving Toledo.
Toledo is on the move right now. But city government has been the missing piece, either haplessly cheering on others or haplessly missing in action when it was needed most.
Lee Iacocca used to say: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Mr. Kapszukiewicz is suggesting that the mayor of this city can and should do more than follow or get out of the way — that he or she can lead, or, better yet, collaborate in leadership.
Is Mr. Kapszukiewicz the right man to lead? Is he a guy who can establish basic competence and help us to dream, and realize, big dreams? That’s why we have campaigns.