We been gettin’ a bad rap.
Some folks accuse of us being too negative, of always finding the gray cloud for every silver lining. But, in the spirit of the good and the great, and the theme of this special issue, we bring you our own paean to the pols of Frogtown USA. This is our Best of City Politics, Hildo-style. And the first category is
1. Best spelling bee stumper in a leading role. Hands down, the runaway winner is Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. Wade is a smart policy-wonk. He takes the reins during a true Toledo renaissance, and has the right balance of rootedness in Toledo and vision of something far beyond our rusty confines to push the envelope. He has populated his administration with young, fresh faces.
Only one distracting setback. Wade has a last name that, well it is not in keeping with his predecessors and notable Froggy Bottom names from the history books. Previous occupants of the 22d floor had names like Ford, Bell, Collins and before them, Owens, McHugh, Kessler and DeGood. Ok, there was a hyphenation with Hicks-Hudson and even HWSNBN had a moniker that could be spelled phonetically. Names from our more distant and broader community history include Jones (the Golden Rule variety), Start, Waite, Scott, Willys all fairly easily spelled.
Us locals become accustomed to Dorr, with one ‘o’ and two ‘r’s’ and Libbey, with an ‘e’, but a last name with 13 letters. What’s a writer to do?
Here’s to you, intrepid respeller of your last name — 5 vowels, 2 ‘k’s’ and 2 ‘z’s’. You are the Best of Toledo!
2. Biggest overachiever. This category has never been as hotly contested as it is right now. For years it has been dominated by the obvious choice, County Auditor Anita Lopez. Let’s face it, Anita has her obstacles to greatness. She once memorably held a press conference to refute rumors that she couldn’t speak publicly without coaching from the sidelines, then interrupted it to get some coaching from the sidelines. Her Blutarsky-esque speeches are the stuff of legend.
Even so, Anita has been elected to the Toledo School Board, then County Recorder, then took on the incumbent County Auditor and won. Even her futile run for Mayor in twenty thirteen, thought by some to be so inept that it would have derailed a lesser pol, was only a minor setback.
This year, however, presents a tie in the overachiever category. The odd sojourn of County Treasurer Lindsay Webb from wannabe attorney to Treasurer appointee, accomplished against the odds after revelation of Lindsay’s abysmal, junk bond credit score — over achievement in the greatest sense. Lindsay has cobbled together a weighty political career from ashes and red ink. And is now the lead financial officer for a major Ohio county.
Congrats, Anita and Lindsay, you are the Best of Toledo!
3. Best extreme makeover. Sandy Spang is a straight up, true believer Republican. She votes with Republicans. she caucuses with Republicans, she even meets with Republicans behind the scenes to decide their weird Republican stuff.
Yet she styles herself an “Independent” with a capital “I.” It’s tough to admit you’re a Republican in blue Toledo, and even in slightly less blue Lucas County. What’s an ambitious budding pol to do?
Sandy’s done a wizard-like job of hiding her identity from the average voter. For that, Sandy, you are the Best of Toledo!
4. Best sky-diving parachute in a crash-landing role. In a new category this year, we have to praise good ol’ Georgie Sarantou. A mediocre City Councilman, he did nothing of note amid blase comments and predictable votes. He tried real hard to run for other office, but never made the grade.
Mayor D. Mike Collins, remembered the term-limited Georgie, rewarding him with a fat administration paycheck as Finance Director. A job he was ill-suited for, having failed to predict the collapse of Toledo’s economy and attendant financial woes of the late aughts and early twenty tens as Finance Chair on Council.
Georgie continued in the role under PHH’s administration, where he failed to account for or properly explain some eight-plus million in capital improvement money, a snafu that likely helped cost PHH her re-election bid. Alas, Georgie wasn’t there for PHH’s demise. He had already resigned.
No crash landings for our Georgie. Somehow he is now the court administrator for the Probate Court. A life-long Republican, with no legal background, and two public flameouts, has a big enough parachute for a soft-landing with a Democratic judge, into another job he is ill-suited for and without qualifications.
Nice work, Georgie. You are the Best of Toledo!
There you have it. Our tribute to the great and near-great. Back handed compliments, you say? Masking more typically Hildoesque vitriol and derision?
Oh well, folks. That’s the Best of City Politics.