While thanking friends, family, and political supporters for his election victory [receiving 56 percent of the vote], Collins occasionally quoted a slogan coined 100 years ago last month: “You will do better in Toledo.”
“I’m optimistic, that as we usher in this New Year and this new administration, that we will all, every one of us, will be part of the dynamic changes that the future holds in Toledo,” said Mayor Collins.
Collins retired from the Toledo Police Dept. (TPD), serving the last ten years of his law enforcement career as the president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association (TPPA). The new mayor received heavy union support during his political campaign. Collins also taught criminal justice courses at the University of Toledo following his retirement as a police officer.
Collins told the story of how he is the son of Irish immigrants—his father, like many others, arrived by boat at Ellis Island in New York City. His father promptly enlisted in the U.S. Army, earning his citizenship by serving in World War II in the Pacific Theater.
“For our children and our grandchildren to do better in Toledo, they have to have a successful and rewarding career,” said Mayor Collins. “Those careers should be at home. They shouldn’t be transported out of Toledo. Our children and our grandchildren should only leave because they want to, not because they have to for economic reasons.”
Collins listed the city’s biggest challenges as preserving neighborhoods and its housing stock, economic development and education, and “uniting its citizens despite their differences.”
“We will have difficult moments over the next four years,” Mayor Collins said. “But nothing is worth, in terms of achievement, if it isn’t worth working for and paying the price and understanding that sacrifice that achievement requires. There’s no free pass to achievement.”
The new mayor stated that when he recently went to Harvard University for a seminar and to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and other big-city mayors, that they didn’t invite him. “They invited Toledo,” he emphasized.
“They have faith in Toledo. We need to renew that faith ourselves,” said Mayor Collins. “We should send a message to them that their faith is justified—and we will follow through with that faith.”
During his campaign against independent, incumbent Mike Bell, the new mayor received some criticism for his assertion during a NAACP (Toledo Chapter) political debate that racial profiling does not happen within the TPD. He later softened his stance on the issue, explaining that he was citing a TPD report on the issue. It caused a lasting rift between Collins and then-Police Chief Derrick Diggs, who resigned and was replaced by appointee Lt. William Moton as head of the force.
“For us to be truly successful, we have to reach out to everyone,” said Mayor Collins. “We will not agree on every issue. But we can do a better job of coming together as a community if we remember that we’re all in this together.”
During his 12-minute acceptance speech, the new mayor quoted Gandhi, author Stephen Covey, and Abraham Lincoln. The former Toledo city councilman vowed to restore the city to its former glory.
“We are going to make this the model it deserves to be and the brand that it once held,” said Mayor Collins.
The new mayor ended his speech with a traditional Irish blessing.
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May God forever hold us in peace and love,” he concluded.
The Special Events Committee of the Collins Transition Team established the following agenda for the ceremony: a small reception prior to the swearing in with culinary students from the Maritime Academy of Toledo serving hors d’oeuvres and light refreshments; an invocation by Rev. Albert B. Ceranowski, a retired Toledo Catholic priest and former Chaplain for the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association; and Judge Ruth Ann Franks (Lucas County Court of Common Pleas) administering the Oath of Office.
Afterwards, Toledo City Council wasted no time in appointing Collins’s replacement, filling his vacant District Two council seat with Matt Cherry, 33, a business agent for Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #33. The Lucas County Democratic Party endorsed Cherry for the appointment, which was approved by an 8-3 council vote. Cherry will have to run to retain the seat during a special election set for May.
Six at-large Toledo City Council members also took the oath of office for new terms: Democrats Jack Ford and Larry Sykes, independents Sandy Spang and Theresa Gabriel, as well as re-elected incumbents Republican Rob Ludeman and Democrat Steven Steel.
Sykes unseated incumbent Adam Martínez by 6 votes during a recount last month, which leaves city council without Latino representation for the first time in several years. Martínez lost much of his union support when he—one week prior to the Nov. 5th election—endorsed Bell.