Sandusky Co. Democratic Party v. Blackwell was argued in a Toledo
federal courtroom, right in the thick of a close 2004
presidential election, where every vote really did count.
“We won that case and ensured Latino voters were less likely to
be disenfranchised because of the policies Ken Blackwell
was enacting,” he said.
Beyond that, McNamara wants to institute a policy of inclusion
in city government.
“I certainly care about the plight of everyone in the community
and want to make sure that my administration is
well-represented,” he said. “I want to make sure we hire Latino
workers, that municipal workers are reflective of the population
that they serve. The same thing applies to board representation.
I want to make sure Latinos are represented on boards to which
the mayor appoints.”
But McNamara has been vocal about ending political cronyism and
hiring only qualified, experienced professionals to perform
vital functions such as economic development director. But he
doesn’t see a problem striking a careful balance.
“There are a lot of qualified Latinos in this community,” he
said. “I don’t think that is an issue at all.”
McNamara was first elected to Toledo City Council in 2006 to an
unfinished term. He was the top vote-getter for six at-large
council seats in the 2009 election.
“Public service runs in my blood,” McNamara told an audience at
a recent NAACP candidate forum, pointing out that his late
father—Dan McNamara—served on Toledo City Council and as
Lucas County Auditor, while his mother was an assistant county
prosecutor and worked at the county board of elections.
McNamara cited his top four issues as: “jobs, crime,
neighborhoods, and our schools.”
“I am deeply concerned about the state of poverty in the city of
Toledo,” he said. “That has got to be the mayor’s number one
focus is doing something to reverse the trend of growing
poverty. If we don’t build up our middle class, the city’s not
on the right path.”
The former city council president stated his belief that
municipal government can use existing resources by “doing
better, working smarter, being more efficient, and investing in
ourselves.” He stated that raising the median income “helps
“That helps to raise the tax base. That helps the schools,
increases access to healthcare, it is linked to higher
educational attainment, and linked to home ownership,” he said.
“We really need to focus on finding those economic opportunities
for those who need it.”
McNamara called Toledo’s current unemployment rate of 9.4
percent “unacceptably high.” He has forwarded a five-point
economic development plan, some of which would give preference
to local companies who bid on city contracts, set up “co-op”
businesses in neighborhoods surround large institutions such as
ProMedica and the University of Toledo, and
construct a recycling-sorting center to create local jobs,
instead of trucking the city’s paper, plastic, and other items
“Whether we call ourselves a little big city or a big little
city, our problems are manageable,” McNamara said.
The former city council president bristled at the notion Toledo
is becoming “Little Detroit,” as some wags have recently
referred to the city.
‘I completely disagree with that. I think Toledo is an amazing
city,” he said. “Our economy needs a big jump, but we’re nowhere
near the financial straits of Detroit.”
McNamara believes “his deep concern for creating economic
opportunity for the people who live in Toledo” is what sets him
apart from the other candidates.
“This race isn’t just about jobs. It’s about creating jobs for
people who live in the city,” he said. “That is what I’m most
focused on—creating jobs for the people who most need the
economic opportunity who live within the city limits. That is a
much different message than what you’re hearing from the other
McNamara gave himself a ‘9’ for his performance in the first
“I talked about the issues voters care about—jobs and crime,”
he said. “I think I gave very detailed responses, which has been
a past criticism of candidates in these debates.”
McNamara also has challenged the other candidates to sign “an
ethics pledge,” but has found few if any takers so far in
“I think there are certain things that go on in Toledo regarding
politicizing public office that is just wrong,” he said. ‘I
pledged not to do those things.”
McNamara recently sent a mailer to voters accusing fellow
Democrat Anita López of “political cronyism” for giving
raises to employees during tough economic times, as well as
accepting campaign donations from county employees she hired.
McNamara defended the negative campaigning as a strategy to set
“Democrats are looking for the stronger Democrat who can beat
Mike Bell,” he said. “Anita López has huge ethical problems
surrounding her that have cost taxpayers money.”
The political tactic seems to indicate one Democrat will advance
past the primary to take on the incumbent mayor. Despite heavy
union support for Ms. López, McNamara pointed out others in
organized labor have yet to endorse, because their focus will be
“to defeat Mike Bell.”
“I think that’s a very plausible scenario,” he said.
Improving education has been a centerpiece of the mayoral
campaign. Many of the candidates, including Mr. McNamara, stated
they can use the mayor’s office to champion community
collaboration for the benefit of the city’s children. McNamara
cited the United Way’s “Schools as Community Hubs”
initiative, where schools open their doors to neighborhood
groups. He stated the city can take an active role in partnering
with those agencies and expand the program to other schools.
“I think I can be an advocate for Toledo Public Schools,”
he said. “For example, this last budgeting process was not good
for urban schools. It just did not help. One thing a mayor can
do is advocate for the schools in the (state) budgeting process,
which I will do.”
McNamara, 36, got married in 2009 to Valerie Moffitt, who
works for one of the city’s community development corporations
in North Toledo. They have no children, but have three dogs.
Editor’s Note: Next week in La Prensa, mayoral candidate and
incumbent mayor Mike Bell will be profiled for a primary
scheduled for Sept. 10, 2013.