The timing of the change arrives at a crucial point in the TPS board’s history – right on the heels of key decisions on their building program and dealing with issues of lower funding because of lower enrollment.
“We need to find a way to retain students. We need to come up with innovative programs and not wait for the state to do so,” says Vásquez.
However, Vásquez is particularly proud of one of his accomplishments during his tenure: the program that, beginning with 2009 high school graduates, extends financial aid to needy TPS students with a 3.0 grade point average and provides full tuition for four years of college through the University of Toledo Guarantee program or the Success Program at Owens Community College.
Meanwhile, across town at Government Center, newly minted Councilman Steel also has some thoughts to share with La Prensa readers.
“I think as an at-large councilman. I have a vision for the entire city, not only its districts. We are dealing with policies that impact residents citywide. Clearly, the budget is now under control, as is the police contract. But before we can deal with our other priorities, we need to have our fiscal house in order. That is issue number one,” explains Steel.
“Issue number two affects any neighborhood in Toledo, the employment picture in Toledo. The budget went south because the city income tax went south when employment went south.
“There are many emerging technologies that are looking at coming to Toledo. We need to make certain that if and when they come here, they will provide real employment opportunities so that people in Toledo will get jobs. We need to learn from the lesson of Silicon Valley where when the jobs came, the locals didn’t benefit from hiring,” says Steel.
He says he is especially interested in focusing upon “small to medium size businesses with eight to 40 employees that will grow and expand, hiring more workers over time as their success increases. We need to look at their business plans and do what we can to help them. We are in a good market position.”
As an example, Steel points to “the old Sofo processing plant on Belmont which has found new life under the operation of Martínez Food Products LLC. The company, which Steel says is only four years old, makes pickles and sauces for Meijer, Kroger, and other house brands.
“After attending the car show on Cherry Street, I learned about another new Toledo business, the only one in the region doing cutting, welding and detail for these cars,” says Steel.
But Steel’s goals for Toledo’s economic rebirth are not just limited to economic development. He is a major booster of the need for alternative energy sources.
During his tenure on the school board, Steel won kudos and acclaim for his successful efforts to streamline the curriculum. He knows the importance of collaboration, a concept he would like to apply to regional growth.
Above all, Steel likes to see results. “Don’t tell me why we can’t do things,” says Steel, “just figure out how to get it done.”