On Monday at the Park Inn downtown, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell delivered his fourth and final State of the City address of his term, as part of a Rotary Club meeting.
During the mayor's annual State of the City speech, Bell discussed what has happened in the past three years and his priorities for the final year of his term.
Much of his focus was on the city's finances, and digging out of a deep budget hole over the past three years.
"Where we're at now is we have a city that has a balanced budget. We actually have a rainy day fund. We're actually able to hire police officers. We're able to hire firefighters. We're able to put roads in place that we haven't been able to put in place before," said Bell.
The mayor also discussed the city's aging water and sewer systems, and how he intends to soon place a water rate increase proposal before council, to pay for repairs at the water treatment plant.
"We need to figure out what the new rate increases need to be. Now for a person that's a mayor, a campaign year and all this other stuff, you have to be crazy to say something like that," said Bell.
Additionally, Bell touched on public safety. He anticipates by the end of 2013, the city will have hired 165 cops and 169 firefighters just during his term.
While talking about his administration's economic development efforts, Bell said his job is to not only attract domestic investment in Toledo, but also attract foreign investors to create new job opportunities.
"Reaching out across the world is not anything new in the United States, it's just new here," said Bell.
Announcing he is going to run for re-election this year, the mayor said part of his mission has been trying to change attitudes in the Glass City.
"It is interesting to see how many people focus on the negative portion of this city, how many people try to purposefully keep us in the past, and it's frustrating," said Bell.
Alan Cox is currently the only other candidate to announce he will run for mayor, but within the next few weeks, there could be others joining the race, including the current president of City Council.
"I love my city. In closing, I'm just going to let you all know - you'll be the first - it is my intent to run for mayor again,' said Bell.
It was the wrong time to make a political announcement, according to City Council President Joe McNamara.
"I don't think it's appropriate to use the State of the City address as a political soap box," said McNamara.
The mayor says he is not worried about the criticism.
"I wanted to go ahead and announce it. Every place I go people are asking that question. Now we're done with it," said Bell.
As for McNamara, he is not ready to say whether or not he will run against Bell.
"I'm looking at it. I'm having a town hall meeting in various parts of Toledo to get feedback from citizens, and I'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks," said McNamara.
Alan Cox is running as president of AFSCME Local 2058 representing city managers and technicians. He says what is lacking right now is teamwork between the Bell administration and city labor.
"The labor leaders should be part of the team at the city in operations and everything. I just haven't seen that in the last few years," said Cox.
As for the Republicans, party chair Jon Stainbrook says he has been working to line up a qualified candidate.
"We've had three meetings already with Theresa Gabriel. We've met for financing. We met for organization and for steering committee. We're very serious about having her as a candidate," said Stainbrook.
Many Democrats in Toledo suggested another potential candidate, County Auditor Anita Lopez. However, she did not offer any comment when questioned if she is going to run for mayor this year.
Later Monday night, City Council will host a town hall meeting to go over the proposed city budget.
Toledo residents are asked to bring any questions, complaints or concerns about the proposed budget to the West Toledo Branch Library at 6 p.m.
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