City Politics: Looking grim

Help wanted in City Politics

Here we go again.

     The stepping stone has been stepped, and the vacancy carousel is spinning. Where it stops is anyone’s guess.

     Michele Grim, oh, sorry, Dr. Michele Grim is about to bolt from her brief stint on Toledo City Council, leaving her At-Large seat for the seemingly greener pastures of the Ohio House.  Grim will have served exactly one year when she skedaddles. 

To your health 

     To her credit, she leaves with a signature piece of legislation under her belt. After several delays, City Council voted seven to five to use federal COVID relief funds, matched by funds from Lucas County, to cancel medical debt for a large number of Toledoans. Debt will only be relieved for those who meet certain criteria, like income, size of debt and health care provider owed. Still, this is a Big Deal, garnering major national news coverage.

     And now she’s gone to the State House, where Big Ideas go to die. Or, at least, where Big Ideas championed by progressive Democrats like Grim go to die. The place has been gerrymandered into total Republican dominance. Big Ideas like turning Ohio into the shootout at the OK Corral fly through with ease. But relieving health care costs for struggling Ohioans? Not so much.

     Grim had difficulty convincing a legislative body with exactly zero Republicans to pass her Big Idea. Good luck in the Republican infested waters of Columbus.  

     To illustrate the contrast, consider the corruption scandals. Toledo lost four Democratic Council members for a few thousand bucks slipping from a magazine and blowing around a restaurant parking lot.  Literally Keystone Kops stuff.  Columbus lost the Republican Speaker of the House over millions of dollars in kick backs.  And no one seems to care all that much.

Help wanted, apply within

     Speaking of the Fallen Four, Grim’s departure leaves an already inexperienced Council with a vacancy to fill.  This time Council itself will seat Grim’s replacement temporarily until her permanent replacement gets elected next fall.

     Grim has already opined loftily that the appointment should go to someone who pledges not to run for the permanent seat. Which is not mandated by the Charter of the City of Toledo, but instead represents pretentious posturing by a short term soon-to-be former member of Council who will have no say in the matter.

     The machinations of city government are big and complicated. Effective politics requires years of relationship building. The last thing we need is another short termer only to be replaced again after the next election. We need someone committed to good local governance in the long term.

     But who? Or, if you prefer, whom?

     The process to fill the appointment hasn’t been announced.  But it usually includes applying to Council, then maybe some public interviews. It will culminate in a public vote by Council to seat their new colleague.

     Expect the list angling for the appointment to be long, and expect it to contain familiar names with no chance of getting appointed by the Democrat dominated body. Like frequent candidate, never elected, Republican Tom Names, for example.

     Oh, it will be a motley crew, to be sure. Killer Dia? Probably. Indicted Gary Johnson? Maybe.  Heaven forbid, Carty?  Just stop, that’s too frightening to consider.

     Council needs stability and competence.  Too often we get posturing and sound bites. Recent losers like Daniel Ortiz will probably apply. Ditto Mac Driscoll.  The former seems hell-bent on elected office, any elected office, having already run for two in two years.  The latter seems unassuming and a better choice.

     There will also probably be formers who apply, touting the need for experience. Mark Sobczak? Maybe. Tom Waniewski? Probably not.  But we hear that concern, since the current Council is lacking in experience and cohesion.

     While it would be tempting to go with someone who has been there before, we think it would be a mistake. We need new blood, but someone humble enough to learn and committed enough to stay. Someone with the relationships to be effective, and the support to win the election.

     Is that you? If so, jump on in. The water’s fine. Shark-infested, sure. But fine.

     Let the game begin.