Sunday, March 29, 2009

As if we didn't already know, Konop will run for mayor

With so much ado about even considering a run for mayor, I don't think anyone is surprised by the announcement that Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop will formally enter the race tomorrow.

As a Democrat, he has added another option for local Dems to choose among. So far, the Republicans have only one declared candidate, Jim Moody, though former Fire Chief Mike Bell (a Democrat who plans to run as an Independent) is likely to garner support across political lines.

From The Blade:

Mr. Konop plans to argue that he has executive experience, having served on the three-person commissioner board for more than two years.

"You're managing budgets and personnel - two big aspects of being mayor," he said.

Having been a county commissioner (as well as an elected clerk of court and a business manager), I can certainly attest to the difference between 'managing' a budget and 'preparing' one.

Yes, commissioners manage a budget, but they don't create it, they don't set priorities (those are set by the Ohio Revised Code) and they don't have many options in denying other elected officials the ability to spend. Some might say a mayor does the same thing - but we've seen the detrimental impact of electing mayors who've never prepared a budget...can you say 'deficit'?

As for 'managing' personnel, I will concede that a commissioner does this. But managing as one of three people responsible is vastly different from what the mayor must do.

A commissioner votes on hiring/firing staff and hears and decides grievances filed by unions/employees. A commissioner doesn't determine the job descriptions, conduct performance evaluations, participate in union negotiations, interview potential employees or even impart the bad news when a person is let go. Konop's only individual hiring experience is of his personal assistant - and I don't believe he's ever had to tell someone, 'you're fired.'

His public track record on filling positions isn't the best, either. He was placed in charge of the search for a new director of the Lucas County Improvement Corporation, after pushing for the resignation of the prior one, but did not complete the task.

A mayor must select people to fill key positions: directors and commissioners, chief of staff, etc. While I never negate someone's ability to gain such expertise, I'm very confident I don't want the learning to occur first in the mayor's office.

Even if you decide that the personnel and budget management as a commissioner is equivalent to what is needed by a mayor, Konop has only two years of doing this - and nothing in his previous positions to contribute to that. If the ability to manage budgets and personnel is high on your list of needed skills, Konop's experience will put him near or at the bottom of the list of the major candidates at this point.

So what does that leave him to offer the voters? Why 'change' of course. And grandstanding - though he calls it 'challenging the status quo.'

"There's no one running that represents the kind of change that this community needs," Mr. Konop said in an interview with The Blade on Friday.

"I have a track record that shows I'm willing to aggressively challenge the status quo. I'm the only candidate who can deliver that."

There's more to being mayor than 'challenging the status quo' with ideas and gimmicks that cost taxpayer dollars. (Remember art assist - Konop's brilliant idea to subsidize loans for purchasing art?)

And though current mayor Carty Finkbeiner has had many public gaffs, none have been anything as severe as standing with a group who called our local Sheriff Deputies 'nazis' but not uttering a word of protest or objection, which Konop did just last week at the Foreclosure Defense League press conference.

Konop's working relationship with his fellow commissioners is not a good one. I'm not sure what he expected when he was elected, but I'm certain he thought he would have more support from his two Democrat colleagues. His difficulty in garnering support for his positions will be magnified when he has to work with quadruple the number on city council - and his lack of a track record with fellow Democrats does not result in good expectations for dealing with the political implications of A-Team, B-Team and Republicans in council chambers.

The good news about his entry into the race is that it will split the Democrat vote. The primary for mayor is non-partisan. The top two mayoral vote-getters go on to the general election, so if Democrats have to choose between multiple candidates, it is possible for a Republican to make it to the general election. However, that requires outstanding campaigning by the Republican, and it is as likely that the top two vote-getters will be Democrats, as we've seen in the past.

Additionally, The Blade, by the subtle clues we've all learned to recognize, has shown a preference for candidate Keith Wilkowski. They've also been highly supportive of Konop. Which one they end up favoring may influence a portion of the primary vote and their coverage of the candidates will be interesting to watch.

Now the only unknown is Finkbeiner. I've previously thought that he would enter the race and seek re-election no matter what. Now I'm not so sure. If the recall effort gathers sufficient signatures to place the matter on the primary ballot (which seems likely at this point), Carty may decide not to run. However, the logic of such a choice must be balanced by his ego and his perception that being the best cheerleader for the city is the highest qualification for the office.

This is going to be an interesting political season.

Tim Higgins at Just Blowing Smoke has more to say about Comm. Konop's claim of 'challenging the status quo'.


MoveToTheBurbs said...

As Young Ben's liberal heroes have said "never let a crisis go to waste"..... Now he's using it as his excuse to break his promise to those who elected him county commissar....

Any promise made in his mayoral campaign should carry an disclaimer. Because if elected, he will find a reason to break promises made in this campaign.

Ben should resign his position as commissar if he runs for mayor. He will not be able to do his job for me, a Lucas County taxpayer, if he is chasing his next political office. But I'm sure that he won't.

Ben should resign his position with UT if he runs for mayor. As a State of Ohio taxpayer, I don't believe he will be able to do his job there and run for mayor. But I'm sure that he won't.

Ben could help Lucas County and the City of Toledo by forgoing the tax break on his downtown loft and paying his fair share of property tax. Then he might understand the full burden he and other levy loving liberals put on the rest of us. But I'm sure that he won't.

Ben should make it very clear that he feels he is far too intelligent to stay in Toledo, and that he intends to run for Congress when Mousy Kaptur decides to retire. It's clear that he feels he should be part of the Inside the Beltway Liberal Intelligencia. But I'm sure he won't.

Go ahead Toledo, keep voting for the same families who have made Toledo the forward thinking city it is today. Let Young Ben Konop-Skeldon-Wozniak keep the decline on track!

Roman said...

Among the many problems I have with Ben Konop holding ANY political office is "managing" people. Things; like vehicles, buildings, time, etc may be managed. People have to be led. I have had the honor of being led by true leaders, to be blunt, I would not follow Ben Konop across the street! He is way to impressed with himself to be any good to anyone/anything.

navyvet said...

To avoid becoming a party of one "C Team" Democrat, Mr. Konop must first apologize for his silence during and AFTER the "nazi" gaffe. His silence since the incident does not speak well for his character.

Maggie Thurber said...

MoveToTheBurbs - There certainly are a lot of things Konop should do but, like you, I'm certain he won't. LOL

Roman and NavyVet - excellent points - thanks for making them!

2Bn11FA said...

"I have a track record that shows I'm willing to aggressively challenge the status quo. I'm the only candidate who can deliver that."

Not to burst Mr. Konop's bubble but didn't General George Armstrong Custer say something similar on a trip out west? A trip from which he never returned?

One of the main issues that need to be changed/challenged in Toledo is this silly apolitical primary system. The citizens of Toledo deserve the opportunity to vote for either party not just the two most popular individuals running. That stinks!

MoveToTheBurbs said...

There's his e-mail address. I've sent him an e-mail, politely requesting that he resign if he runs for mayor. Maggie, you have a copy in your 'SPD mail.

Jay Ott said...

Speaking of Mike Bell, he will not garner my support if raising taxes is an option.

I have often said that because of government's irresponsible actions, we the citizens will be punished. We all will get the shaft one way or another.

What do I know? I'm just an ordinary citizen who is a realist and has become cyncial of government.

Raising taxes to pay for the $27 million deficit in which people in government are responsible for creating, should not be an option.

Maggie Thurber said...

Jay - Bell did not say he supports raising taxes. He said all options must be on the table and any tax increase would have to go to the ballot and be approved by voters.

While I wouldn't support any tax/fee increases, not ruling out such an option is not such a bad thing - and might be a wise position to take this early in the race.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Obviously this is going to be a very interesting political season, so I'll go out on a limb and make a couple of predictions if I may:

Carty will run, he can't help but do so; it's his ego that won't quit, laced with a dash of defiance.

In the end Mike Bell will win, assuming no one of equal stature (political stature) jumps in the race.

And, it will be tough for a while, but Mike can and will get us out of this financial hole we find ourselves in.

I picked Mike Bell way before he even said he was running; he's one of only two possible potential candidates in my book who can pull it off.

Maggie Thurber said...

Hooda - privately, I've said the same thing about Bell. (I said the same thing about Carty on air.)

When you look at the press releases Moody and Wilkowski issued after Bell entered the race (criticizing Bell) and compare them to the presser Bell issued to Konop, you'll see the difference between crass campaigning (Moody and Wilkowski) and class (Bell).

People notice those types of things and respond accordingly.

Hooda Thunkit said...


The only thing that I can say in response is that great minds think alike ;-)

Seriously though, you're right about the crass vs. class thing..., it's so easy to see it that only a good ole boy (and a crass one at that) would overlook/miss it.

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