Tuesday, February 27, 2024

City Politics: Whither Wade?

Varying paths in City Politics

There are two kinds of elected officials in City Politics. Those who serve their time in elected office, then move on to other pursuits. And those for whom there is always another office, another spotlight, another position of power to be sought.

Out of sight, out of mind

Consider the living former Toledo mayors. There’s Donna Owens, the anomalous Republican in the group. Owens served two terms on Toledo City Council, and then three terms as Toledo mayor back in the nineteen eighties. Her public service ended in nineteen eighty-nine.

She has never run for another office. She pops back into the public eye occasionally, most recently as part of a group of former mayors calling for measures to end gun violence in the City. She spoke at then-candidate Donald Trump’s Toledo rally back in twenty sixteen. And she was infamously convicted of a Tom Noe-related scheme to skirt campaign finance laws in two thousand six.

Other than that, no further electoral ambition. Ditto Mike Bell, who served one term as mayor ending in twenty fourteen. He pops up occasionally to lend his support to some cause or another. But he has never appeared on another ballot. Owens and Bell seem content with their former public service and let it go at that.

There are other notable examples of folks who serve briefly, then move on to other pursuits. Former Toledo Council member Frank Szollosi comes to mind. Ditto former state Senator Linda Furney.

L’etat, c’est Carty

Then there’s the other kind of elected official. Think Carty, the pol that never seems to go away. He’s the embodiment of ambition, believing only he can cure all that ails us.

Carty has run for every office imaginable. He has been a Republican, a Democrat, and an independent. He runs for mayor again and again, most recently in twenty twenty one. He has never seen a photo op he didn’t like, and apparently can’t stand to be out of the public eye.

Carty is an extreme example of political narcissism, but there are plenty more of his ilk. There are those, like George Sarantou, always looking for their next seat. Sarantou was term limited from City Council, and ran for various offices in the interim. After a brief stint away, he’s back in the friendly confines of the twenty first floor of One Guv Center.

Then there are those who use each elected office as a step to the next. Think Anita Lopez, who has been a school board member, County Recorder, and has spent the last seventeen years as County Auditor. Along the way she had an infamous flameout as a failed mayoral candidate and has flirted with running for judge.

Decisions, decisions

All of which brings us to the two seats of power in Toledo government, the Mayor and the President of Council. Matt Cherry holds the latter seat, and he is term limited this year. He had never held office prior to his appointment to Council to replace Mike Collins, when Collins was elected Mayor in twenty thirteen. Cherry is still relatively young, and has strong backing from labor. He serves as a business agent for the sheet metal workers union. His name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor or county commissioner. He could also run for an at-large Council seat in two years, following in the footsteps of his fellow denizen of District Two, Rob Ludeman. Or he could go back to the private sector. 

All of which brings us to Wade.

He’s not term limited for two more years, but he must be thinking about next steps. He’s served in one elected position or another for most of his adult life. His attempt to change the charter to give himself a third mayoral term was rejected soundly by voters.

Whither Wade? Become a political elder statesman, riding off into the sunset like Owens and Bell? Minus the money laundering, or course.

Or keep popping up on another ballot, like Carty? Run for the statehouse, County Commission, even try to get back on City Council like former Mayor Jack Ford once did?

Our guess is he’s already got his next step planned out. And it doesn’t include going quietly into that sweet, good night.

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