With just days left in what appears will be a close race, the
two men are trying to win voters wherever they can—including
within the potentially pivotal Latino community. Both are
independent candidates who have each secured the endorsement of
one political party or the other—but this is the first mayor’s
race to feature two finalists from neither the Republican nor
Democratic party. Democratic candidates Anita López and
Joe McNamara were eliminated in the September primary.
The Republicans fielded no candidates.
Mayor Bell emphasized that there is a place for every group in
economic development, stressing that city officials reach out to
minority businesses through its public bids for construction and
purchasing. He also spoke of partnerships between local and
regional economic development agencies.
“We try to make sure all of our minority contractors and
businesses are treated fairly,” he said. “With all our
connections and trying to bring everybody together [we] try to
be inclusive in terms of grabbing as many businesses in as
possible and giving everybody an opportunity to do it.”
“One thing we’re not properly doing is policing our
affirmative action and contract letting for MBE’s (minority
business enterprises) and WBE’s (women-owned business
enterprises),” countered Councilman Collins. “I believe the city
can do a much better job on this. We’re not really putting
forward the energies to be certain those are being followed
through by contractors.”
Collins also spoke of the need to encourage more minorities to
enter the skilled trades through apprenticeship programs offered
at various trade schools in the community, which he called
“second to none.” The mayoral candidate offered up a mentoring
program to encourage more Latino and other minority businesses
to pursue state contracts to further grow their businesses
Collins stated he would place emphasis on trying to help small
and medium-sized local businesses to grow instead of chasing
global investment. He criticized what he perceives as inaction
at the Marina District site and the former steam plant downtown,
which has been promised as residential living for years by a
Mayor Bell defended his efforts to spur international
development in Toledo-- particularly in partnership with
México. The mayor stated he has met with the mayor of Puerto
Vallarta, Jalisco. He also has reached out to the
Consulate General of México
headquartered in Detroit, noting that a new official has taken
Mayor Bell had dispatched Director of Neighborhoods Lourdes
Santiago to establish relations with businesses in
Mayor Bell plans a trip to México next year if re-elected Nov.
5, not just to establish a Sister Cities relationship, but to
forge an economic partnership “that makes sense for both sides.”
Mayor Bell stated the diversity within his administration is
providing opportunities to reach out globally.
“We’ve been doing our groundwork. We’ve been doing what we need
to do,” he said. “When you’re talking international, nothing
happens without a relationship. When people are coming long
distances, they need to be able to trust the people they’re
dealing with. We are reaching out. We are reaching out in an
On immigration reform, Mayor Bell emphasized that “everyone is
still trying to figure out what is the right way to do this and
we’re working through it.” The mayor stressed patience and
sensitivity for something that “is not a simple issue.”
“There is a problem. It’s just a matter of figuring out how we
address it, to where everybody feels it’s appropriate,” he said.
“What we need to do as a city is talk to individuals and find
out what is the best path, because you even have individuals
inside the Latino community that stand on two different sides of
Mayor Bell emphasized that for the first time in the city’s
history, both the police chief and fire chief are minorities—and
that he speaks to them at least weekly to address any issues. He
reported there has not “seen any spike” in the treatment of
undocumented immigrants locally and that any such issues “can be
Councilman Collins called himself “the product of immigration,”
noting his own Irish father was once deported. His father later
earned his citizenship through his military service during World
“The immigration policies of this country have never been
consistent,” he said. “We have been very prejudicial. But the
mayor of Toledo or any city cannot create national policy. From
a local standpoint, I believe that the most we can do is work
with our federal legislation. But a mayor needs to speak out.”
Collins did promise “prosecution to its fullest extent” as mayor
if he did see civil rights violations occur within the
community, calling the courts the most appropriate venue for
It was noted that other Ohio cities, such as Dayton, have taken
a welcoming approach to immigrants as an economic development
“Cities are better, the more diverse they are. The stronger
cities we have in the United States, when you look at what they
look like, are pretty diverse,” agreed Mayor Bell. “They have a
lot of people doing a lot of different things. We need to show,
as a city, that we are open to issues of diversity inside our
city. We need to be sensitive to issues involving law
enforcement, issues involving doors being closed, not being open
inside our city. We can make sure people are being treated
While Councilman Collins agreed with the mayor’s assertions, he
stated that he would publicly announce that churches and
shelters “are welcome to provide shelter” to any immigrant who
is targeted by federal law enforcement unfairly under current
immigration policies. He stated a city should welcome all people
of different ethnic, religious, and other backgrounds to ensure
a diverse community and not allow the use “of the events of
2001” [9/11 terrorist attacks] to “commit atrocities”.
“We cannot take steps backward. I would be aggressive and go to
the churches and say ‘provide shelter,’” he said.
Councilman Collins noted that he grew up in the Old South End,
near the South Ave. and Broadway area where recent efforts to
spruce up the community have occurred with wall murals. He
stated his desire to create a notable neighborhood in that
section of the city, similar to a Short North in Columbus
or an Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. Collins used that as
a prelude to explain that he would divide the city into eight
sections using the current police map.
His plan is to partner a “community resource officer” with a
nuisance inspector and a code enforcement inspector to clean up
and establish good relations with each section.
“We will put value-added into our system. We will partner with
the neighborhood, not telling the neighborhood how it should
be,” said Collins. “Let’s say to the neighborhoods ‘how do you
want it and how can we create it for you?’”
Mayor Bell stated city leaders “are trying to work through” the
limited amount of federal dollars to ensure the homeless and
others receive services. He noted the city’s ongoing partnership
with the Believe Center, which provides programming for
Old South End kids, particularly from Latino families. The mayor
also mentioned the diversity of his administration—and the
ability of those individuals to inform him “when we’re missing
the mark” on certain issues [referring to Linda Alvarado,
Lourdes Santiago, Rosalinda Contreres-Harris,and Luis
On education in general and Head Start in particular, the mayor
stated that he was instrumental in bringing local leaders
together to submit an application to take back the preschool
program from a private provider. EOPA and Toledo
Public Schools each submitted separate applications and lost
a competitive bid process for the program.
“They tried to go alone. When they went alone, it failed,” he
said. “Now we’ve brought everyone back to the table. Now’s the
time to come to the table and we can direct that into those
Councilman Collins lamented the loss of Libbey High School
and its effect on Latino teens, calling it “sacrificed.”
Collins, a Libbey grad, stated those teens are now forced “to go
a long way” to other schools and fears a dramatic effect on the
“I stood tall and firm that it should not have happened,” he
said. “Now we have deprived a very important part of our
community of an academic facility. The mayor was silent and when
you’re silent when something goes wrong, in my opinion, you’re
complicit in the wrongdoing that’s occurring. That is a sad
statement for me to make.”
Collins reiterated his plan for a mentorship program in
elementary schools, having academically successful middle-school
age students work with their younger peers. He wants to use
federal neighborhood dollars to pay an incentive to those peer
Both candidates for mayor stated that they support passage of
the upcoming TPS levy.
Mayor Bell called his administration the most diverse “in the
history of the city of Toledo” by design, in order to cover “any
blind spots” in the city. He also stated it gives him a “360
view” of any issues that may be occurring.
Councilman Collins stated he will have “an open and inclusive”
process of making appointments to key Cabinet posts and
boards/commissions if he is elected mayor, forcing candidates to
go before Toledo City Council to answer questions.
More specifically, Collins was asked if he supported the
appointment of a Latino to the Toledo-Lucas County Port
Authority board of directors. Margarita De León
currently serves in that post, but she is term limited and Mayor
Bell has nominated local insurance agent Mark Urrutia to
take her place. That nomination is being held up until after the
“I support her reappointment, because I’ve seen no reasons why
she should not continue in that office,” Collins responded. “To
move her just because you’re going to move her makes no sense to
The two candidates for mayor were asked how they would work to
ensure that racial profiling does not occur to
minorities, when such a practice appears to be on the increase
since immigration reform efforts have not been implemented by
the federal government.
Mayor Bell responded that racial profiling is not always
reported by victims, so anecdotal evidence must be gathered
through all channels, such as neighborhood Blockwatch efforts.
He emphasized that combating it starts with the recognition that
it does occur.
“One of the things I know the [police] chief is pushing very
heavily is increased training on the issues of diversity inside
our community,” said the mayor. “It’s an educational thing, but
you have to be able to put it into practice. To do that, you
also have to have people on the outside in the community who are
not afraid to tell you what’s going on, so you can make the
appropriate adjustments. It’s not a problem that we can’t fix,
but we first have to be able to talk about it, understand the
problem, and constantly monitor it.”
Councilman Collins cited a March report that was prepared as
part of the Toledo Police Dept.’s accreditation and stated that
racial profiling didn’t occur in the city.
He defended a statement attributed to him before the Sept.
primary contending that “racial profiling doesn’t exist” in
Toledo. Instead, Collins stated that as mayor, he would have a
“zero tolerance” toward racial profiling.
“We are not going to tolerate it, period—it’s over with,” he
said. “It’s done and a lesson will be learned. If you violate
these laws, I will do the same thing I said I would do about
immigration: you will be prosecuted.”
The two mayoral candidates answered questions from
representatives of the Latino Media Forum for a special
videotaped broadcast of Voces Latinas (Friday, Nov. 1 at
8:00PM and Sunday, Nov. 3 at 5:00PM) and Mundo Fox.
Tony and Maryori Rios of TRE, Inc. digitized the event on
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.
editor Rico Neller served as a co-moderator with Roberto
Torres, NOHCC executive director, who organized the event.
Federico Martínez of Pulso Latino submitted
questions as well. Other members of the forum include Linda
Parra of Nuestra Gente Community Projects, Inc. [1230AM,
airing Saturdays 1PM] and Jesse
of Mundo Fox.
Also interviewed were Bob Vásquez, who is running for
re-election to the Toledo School Board, and Adam Martínez,
who is running for re-election to Toledo City Council,
The media event stressed to participants and viewers to vote in
the general election November 5, 2013.
¡Su voto es su voz!
Editor’s Tip: When voting in the Toledo Mayoral Race, La Prensa
suggests that you vote for Mike!