Deadline Now: D. Michael Collins, Theresa M. Gabriel and Sandy Spang

Deadline Now: D. Michael Collins, Theresa M. Gabriel and Sandy Spang

Friday, November 15, 2013

Toledoans voted for change on election day. D. Michael Collins defeated incumbent Mike Bell for the office mayor, and newcomers Theresa M. Gabriel and Sandy Spang will join Toledo City Council in January. They join Jack Lessenberry for this week's post-election program.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

Despite the impressions you may have from the media, all of Detroit is not destroyed, crime-filled and rotting. I have an office in the city with a spectacular view of the Ambassador Bridge.

Downtown Detroit is bustling, a destination spot on weekends and in considerably better shape than thirty years ago.

Yet the neighborhoods are, by and large, something out of a horror movie. There are vast blocks of vacant ruins and vacant lots, in the middle of which may be one dilapidated inhabited house. There are neighborhoods where even the police don’t like to go, except in force.

For most people, certainly those with children, living in one of these places is not an option anyone would choose, which is why more than a million people have fled Detroit in the last half century.

Detroit’s politicians concentrated on trying to save the downtown and neglected the neighborhoods. They got nice new sports stadiums. They lost a city.  I think it was significant that Toledo voters elected candidates last week who made the neighborhoods a large part of their focus. On paper, neither Sandy Spang nor Theresa Gabriel should have had a chance. Though they ran as independents, they have been strongly identified as Republicans in the past, and this is a very Democratic city.  But they were easily elected.

My guess is that is because they were strongly identified with their communities.  When the campaign started, it was hard to imagine Mike Collins beating Mayor Bell.   Bell is, most observers agreed, more charismatic, forceful, a better speaker.  The business community strongly backed him.  But he absolutely failed to connect with voters. The Bell administration had no financial or personal scandals.

But there was a mess with the neighborhoods department. When asked about that on this show, the mayor sort of verbally shrugged; his attitude seemed to be, so what? Mike Collins, a somewhat out-of-shape man with far less campaign money, had one message: Collins cares.

For years, he had strongly identified himself with neighborhood concerns, including those of the homeless. He had one basic slogan: Collins Cares. Voters believed it. Until very late, Mayor Bell did very little to show that he cared, too. The election returns show the result.

Now, however, there is going to be immense pressure on those newly elected to turn caring into action. For those in office, the next election always rolls around much more quickly than you’d think.

Just ask Mike Bell.   

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