Mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz in a forum Monday night defended his decision to take on the endorsed candidate of his own party, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, while Ms. Hicks-Hudson suggested lack of mayoral continuity in Toledo has held the city back.
A questioner at the forum in First Unitarian Church of Toledo referred to Mr. Kapszukiewicz being a Democrat, and asked why he would upset the “continuity” that is being created by Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s administration.
“In the campaigning I’ve done here, not one single time has anyone mentioned to me my political party,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. Instead, he said, he is repeatedly asked about when streets would be repaired, the quality of the water, and problems with the budget.
“Because I believe we can do better in those areas, I decided to take a step that was hard for me to take but one that I thought was important,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson, who became mayor automatically in early 2015 when Mayor D. Michael Collins died, suggested Toledo goes through mayors too quickly.
“When we look at cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, where they have mayors that have been able to have a plan and then have the time to execute the plan, those communities were able to grow. Continuity I think is very important,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.
She said she ran in the special election of November, 2015, to maintain continuity “otherwise we would have had three mayors in less than two years and that would have put the city behind and not put us where we are right now.”
The Lucas County treasurer and the incumbent mayor faced off at the South Toledo church event organized jointly by the Glendale-to-Glanzman Neighborhood Watch Group and the University of Toledo Political Science Students Association. Blade staff writer Ignazio Messina moderated.
In response to a question about helping public schools compete with private schools, Mr. Kapszukiewicz claimed credit for the Lucas County Land Bank improving real estate values. He chairs the Land Bank and said neighborhood property values have a lot to do with school performance.
“The land bank has shown to have increased property values at a faster and higher rate than any other city in the state of Ohio,” he said.
Mayor Hicks-Hudson said, “as Wade talks about what the Land Bank has done, he has to give kudos to the men and women of [the Division of] Streets, Bridges, and Harbor of the city of Toledo because they are the ones that are actually demolishing these properties and making a safe passage for our children to get to school.”
The candidates disagreed on strategies for making Toledo a more welcoming community to young people. Mr. Kapszukiewicz asserted that young people today, in contrast to an older generation, are more likely to decide a “cool place to live first” and then go there and seek employment.
“If that is, that puts the onus on us to make sure that our city is where young folks want to be,” Mr. Kapzukiewicz said. “I think we need to do better with our parks and our green spaces. We are lucky enough to be located on a Great Lake. God blessed us with this. And yet we can’t get to the lake from the city,” he said, unless one owns lakefront property in Point Place.
He called for a park that he said would be “dynamic and vibrant and that younger Toledoans seem to crave and want.”
Saying, “I disagree somewhat with what my opponent said,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson cited her support of a partnership with the University of Toledo that provides internships in city government to UT students.
“I do think that if young people have an opportunity to practice their trade, what they went to school for, and be in a community that is welcoming and encompassing to them, they will stay. That was the main reason why I executed this partnership with the University of Toledo, so we will create a pool of young that will have a reason to stay, which is a job, to pay off their student loans and become part of our community and have that connection that is so vital,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.
The forum was the first of three nightly candidate events for the two occurring this week.
On Tuesday, the candidates are expected to participate in a candidates’ night at Walbridge Park Shelter House, 2761 Broadway St. The event is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m.
On Wednesday, a forum is planed from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the McMaster Center in Toledo Main Library, 325 N. Michigan St. The event is sponsored by the Toledo Branch of the NAACP and the Art Tatum African-American Resource Center Citizens’ Advisory Board.
Close-of-business Tuesday is the last opportunity to register to vote in Lucas County for the Nov. 7 election. Information on how to register can be found online at co.lucas.oh.us/79/Voter-Registration-General-Information.
Early voting starts 8 a.m. Wednesday, at 1301 Monroe St., for Lucas County voters.
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