Sunday, June 16, 2024

City Politics – Of forests and trees

Ambition in City Politics

We probably shouldn’t blame him for feeling a bit feisty and entitled. Seriously, no one had ever accomplished what he accomplished.

We’re talking about the boy phenom, the T-Town wunderkind, the Mayor of one of America’s Great Cities, Mister Wade Kapszukiewicz. Sure, he’s lost some of his boyish features, he’s gained a bit of weight, and he’s lost a bit of hair. But he’s still the prodigy who was first elected to public office as a fresh-faced twenty-something and has never looked back.

Since being elected to the obscure office of the board of the Regional Educational Service Center, Wade has followed a steady upward trajectory in City Politics. Toledo City Council. Lucas County Treasurer. And now, Toledo Mayor. He gives his contemporary pol Anita Lopez a run for her money for the nickname Stepping Stone.

Like A Lo, he hasn’t held down a real job in years. But unlike A Lo, who has served as an attorney for local nonprofit agencies, Wade has pretty much not held down a job in the private sector.

Next steps

Speaking of Stepping Stones, what’s up with freshly minted Toledo City Council member Michele Grim? Just elected to serve this past November, she’s already declared her candidacy for state rep. Fellow council member Nick Komives has also declared for the state house, but at least he served a complete term on council first. Is the heat of local politics already that frighteningly toasty for Grim?

But we digress. Back to Wade’s next step. He was elected mayor in twenty seventeen by defeating the incumbent, fellow Democrat Paula Hicks Hudson. His first term was marked by the fortune of a good local economy, record income tax collection and a revived downtown.

When the pandemic hit, Wade was decisive and statesmanlike. He reined in spending and let public health dictate difficult decisions. Even the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 didn’t slow his up ward path.

But despite that, It was still astonishing when he won re-election in a landslide last year, something no Toledo incumbent mayor had ever done since the advent of the strong mayor system of government three decades ago. Never mind he accomplished this by defeating washed up octogenarian Carty S. It was still impressive.

Wade had his clear mandate. Plus a cool hunnerd and eighty mil to invest in the Glass City, from a one time infusion of federal pandemic cash.

Never stop running

Let’s put this all together. Wade won re-election by a thirty point margin, some thing Carty, Mike Bell, and the rest couldn’t do. He’s term-limited, so this is his last term in office. He’s got short-term mountains of federal money to lavish on pet projects. And he’s got no private sector career outside City Politics to go back to.

The result? His campaign for some yet unnamed future office starts now.

Wonder why he’s creating a new marketing department for the City? Is it his campaign media arm, ensuring proper spin and reach? Wonder why he seems more focused on feel good big ticket items like universal pre-K than getting the streets plowed after a snowfall? He’s writing his campaign talking points.

Wonder why he is paying attention to the forest of big, costly initiatives but not paying as close attention to the trees of balanced budgets and basic city services? Because forests make good campaign slogans. And any budget woes he leaves behind will have to be cleaned up by the next poor sap who inherits the bloated bureaucracy without the federal ducats to support it.

The term limit clock is ticking. Whatcha running for next, Wade? Statehouse? Congress? State Treasurer? Guvnah?

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