Surely you remember the mayoral campaign last year. You know, the one necessitated by the death in office of the sitting mayor to fill the balance of his unexpired term. The city charter made it a winner-take-all free-for-all, and candidates came out of the woodwork to throw their hats in the ring.
The council president elevated to the mayorship by that same city charter, Paula Hicks Hudson, won the ensuing election by a large margin, keeping her seat. One might think the other candidates from last November’s election would slink back into the woodwork and support the duly elected mayor as she goes about the people’s work.
Not gonna happen. Most of last year’s candidates are still in campaign mode, probably eyeing the fast approaching year of twenty seventeen, when the mayor must run once again for election. This time there will be a primary. Whoever clears it will get a one-on-one shot at the mayor, assuming she also survives the primary. It makes sense to keep the campaign alive, positioning yourself against the other combatants for that shot. And remember, the mayor didn’t get close to fifty per cent of the vote in the crowded twenty fifteen field so, the logic follows,she could be vulnerable.
Here’s a list of the never-say-die perpetual campaigners lining up for a shot at the title, plus a couple of other ne’er do wells for good measure.
Mike Bell. After getting lapped last year, ol’ Bell-bottoms wasted no time in declaring himself a candidate for county commissioner. It will give him the entire year in the electorate’s eye. If he wins, fantastic. If he loses to long-time incumbent Pete Gerken, which seems likely in Democrat-rich Lucas County in a Presidential election year, he just keeps on campaigning into twenty seventeen. The campaign rolls on! Back at ya, Paula!
Sandy Drabik. If the election had been held soon after her husband’s untimely demise, public sentiment might have swept the widow Collins into the twenty-second floor. It wasn’t, and in November, she finished a distant fourth. A humbling defeat? Not on your life. Drabik has recently taken to social media to chastise the mayor for using bonding authority to fix streets. Drabik sez Paula HH stole her good idea, one the mayor had rejected in the campaign. The campaign last year, not the ongoing one Drabik in still running.
Sandy Spang. This first-term member of council finished far out the running last year. No humility for the Spangster, either. She has lambasted the mayor for promising to use any additional money raised by a tax increase for fixing residential streets while still touting her budget plan, despite it being soundly rejected by the voters, at every opportunity. That’s Sandy, still running for mayor.
Mike Ferner. He can’t say much about the mayor asking to raise city income taxes to fix the damn streets. It’s exactly what he said should be done. Not to be deterred, he harangues anyone who will listen about the need to declare the Maumee River an “impaired watershed.” Fix the damn lake, indeed. Not so fast, Ferner. Even the EPA, the agency which would make such a declaration and administer the regulations required by the designation, cautions against it. Mike knows better, though. Knows it will be his campaign issue going into next year.
In a surprise move, Carty has disappeared from the perpetual campaign. Maybe the come-uppance of a major loss last year has humbled the Finkly one. Not likely. Expect him to come back into the spotlight any moment now.
Then there’s Pete Gerken. He wanted to run for mayor last year, but didn’t due to his reluctance to split the Democratic vote. So he bides his time, taking potshots at the mayor over her handling of Jeep, costs for incarcerating prisoners, and the need for a new jail. He will have a robust campaign this year against Bell, one that will slingshot him into the campaign for mayor next year. Don’t be surprised when his campaign is every bit as much about what he has done for Toledo as what he’s done for the county. It’s all in preparation for next year.
That’s just the short list, folks. Anyone who wants to run next year better get on the train now, because it left the station last summer.
Wade, you listening?