Fit To Lead? Weighing In (On) Elected Officials

. March 27, 2018.

“Healthy” Leadership?

There’s something disturbing about our elected leadership. Have you noticed? An abnormally large number of them are, well, abnormally large.

It begs the question. What level of physical fitness should we expect from those we elect?

Larger than life

This isn’t just another egregious attempt to pick away at the personal lives of public servants. It can have real consequences, like when then-Mayor Collins had a heart attack and died in office. That experience, and the consequences it had for Frogtown, means we have to ask.

How much of an elected officials personal health issues should be made public?
The last three Toledo mayors have been, by visual observation, out of shape. Mayor Collins had untreated high blood pressure that resulted in his demise while in office. As a candidate Collins refused to publicly release the results of a full physical, as have the two mayors who have been elected since. PHH and Wade are both visibly overweight, a condition which can lead to a number of life-threatening health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Should we have demanded a full, impartial accounting of their health challenges before we went to the polls?

Other electeds have similarly obvious weights problems. Do we have a right to know what attendant health problems they may have as well?

Federal law makes health information personal and private. We can only speculate about candidate’s overall health, unless they choose to let us know their health history. Does it matter if our electeds might be ticking time bombs of ill health?

There is, of course, the issue of leading by example. Should electeds be examples of healthy lifestyles? Should they champion good diet and exercise habits? Or do we accept their personal foibles, even if those foibles include a few extra pounds?

Mind your own business

Is it none of our damn business? Or does extra weight negatively affect their ability to focus on our business?

The late Jack Ford had notoriously poor health in his last term on the School Board, being absent for large chunks of time, yet afterward got elected to a final term on Council. He passed away in office. Was he able to keep full attention on the people’s business while battling terminal illness? Should we care?

Much has been made of the financial health of candidates for office, especially those for Toledo mayor. It has become routine to discuss their credit scores. The consequences of bad credit resurfaced recently when Treasurer Webb was nearly ineligible for the office because of her low score. She promised to release her score within a month or so, but to date has yet to do so.

Taxpayers foot the bill for Webb’s poor financial health, since bonding her will cost tens of thousands of dollars more than it took to bond Wade when he was in the same office. In other words, financial health can have direct and immediate impacts on the electorate.

We would propose that the same can be said of physical health. We should expect that our leaders can focus their full and complete attention to their public duties. We should expect these same leaders to exhibit a commitment to wellness. We should therefore demand the health records of those who would be elected to office, just as we should know their financial health.

Hey, electeds and candidate wannabes! You in?