Mayor Mike Bell is still ticked off about The Blade’s gang series, and he’s not too thrilled about the campaign fodder of his two main opponents, either.
The mayor let it all hang out in a nearly hour-long interview in his office on the 22nd floor of Government Center today.
The occasion was the mayor taking out petitions to run for re-election in the third-floor office of the Lucas County Board of Elections.
He said his opponents are engaging in a bunch of “jawboning” and aren’t saying what they would have done in the same difficult circumstances he was in.
“I haven’t heard any of them say what they would have done in this most adverse time in the city’s history,” Bell said. “They’re attempting to be political so they can stay in the neutral zone.”
He has a record that he’s eager to contrast out in the political debates with Democrats Joe McNamara and Anita Lopez.
Bell says his record includes more police hired than his two predecessors combined, action to deal with a failing water system, building fire stations, overcoming a $48 million deficit while not raising taxes, not to mention roads paved and houses demolished.
“If you got something that’s going to make Toledo better, quit jawboning and bring it,” Bell said.
As to how he will campaign, Bell just plans to keep on being mayor, which puts him in front of groups he'd want to talk to as a candidate anyway.
One such situation was earlier today when he helped welcome back the 323rd Military Police Co. from a 10-month deployment in the Persian Gulf. When they left, Bell gave a coin that he had received from Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Capt. Andrew Hawkins, commander of the unit, for good luck.
Today, Hawkins, whose entire unit came back safe and sound, returned him the coin.
The mayor says he’s already moved on from The Blade’s gang series, which he dubbed “irresponsible.” The series hit the newspaper only four days ago.“Deals that were going to happen aren’t going to happen,” Bell said, refusing to elaborate.
“I’m not saying any of the damage will be permanent, but there was damage,” he said.
While I was there, the mayor showed me a photo clipped from The Blade that he likes. It shows a stressed-out-looking former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner behind stacks of paperwork on his desk in the same office where Bell works.
Bell points to his own desk, which is largely free of paperwork, and said he gets his work done during the daytime so he doesn’t have to do it at home at night – as Finkbeiner did - and also to avoid delaying passing the work along.
Bell has a description for all those documents that sat on the groaning desk of the former mayor: he says they were “props” to show how hard the job is.Finkbeiner, for the record, is proud of his work habit of reading and commenting on paperwork for a couple hours at night at home, and then having it distributed first thing the following morning for action that day.