Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Candidate's Campaign Speech

I don't write campaign speeches for candidates, though for a number of years while "The West Wing" was on, I felt a calling to do so. I soon discovered however, that I had neither the looks of Rob Lowe nor the talent exhibited by his character Sam Seaborn (nor that of the writers of the show for that matter). I expect now that such an opportunity will never come my way in real life, so I thought with the elections so close in November and the campaigns winding up, that in place of that dream I would write the speech that I would want a candidate running for office in this city to give. 

We come together as Toledoans once again to decide the direction that this city's future will take. Too often in the past, we have allowed ourselves to stand idly by while the interchangeable candidates and unchanging policies have held sway in the Glass City, doing little more than holding this city back from the promising potential that we all know exists. Far too much of that potential has been squandered by a group of professional politicians who move from the School Board to the Council Chambers on their way to even higher office, or who have purposely ignored such potential by continuing the 'business as usual' policies that this self-appointed ruling class imposes on this city.

The fault for this loss does not lie entirely with the political parties, though they have long turned politics in Toledo into a twisted game where the only thing that matters is the number of players you have on the field.  Neither is it entirely the fault of unions, though their symbiotic relationship with local government long ago reached a point where it's killing the host.  Perhaps it's not even the fault of apathetic voters too lazy to look beyond familiar names and too concerned about the latest celebrity scandal or popular TV show to make educated choices at the polls ... or any choice at all for that matter. 

It's long past time that voters in Toledo looked beyond some these partisan loyalties and started looking at what must be done to stop the runaway train of regulation, taxation, and obfuscation that Glass City government has become.

Contract with the city's unions need to be fair, but not to reward its employers on a far grander scale than those paying the bill for such agreements.  Efforts to support supposed 'quality of life' issues instead need to buttress the quality of streets and sewers necessary to that city's life itself.  Beautification projects long designed to hide this cities flaws must be set aside in favor of repairing those flaws instead.

It's far past time when Toledo stopped looking at ways to maintain its past and began to start looking at ways to define its future.  

Stop seeking ways to generate revenue through levy, permanent temporary taxation, and fees derived from marginally legal surveillance of its citizens.  Stop placing bureaucratic red-tape and onerous regulation in the way of small businesses seeking nothing more than to remain in Toledo.  Stop adding to the burdens of a budget filled with constant effort to erase red ink and start finding ways to live within a budget that has too many residents and businesses voting with their feet.  

We can begin by running an independent audit of the city to see where we 'really are' where revenues and expenditures are concerned.  We can continue by doing what government does best when opportunity knocks and potential presents itself, get it out of the way.  We can build a strong foundation for change by understanding that any level of government works best that infringes on the efforts of its citizens to improve their lives the least.

The beginning is simple enough.  Place a majority in Council that will not add to its already onerous list of laws, but instead seek the removal of those which most stand in the way of progress.  Place a majority in Council that can look beyond the interests of Unions with big pockets to fund future ambitions and look instead to citizens whose taxes pay the bills.  Place a majority in Council who understand that government cannot fix everything and should not try to since often creates more problems than it solves in its attempts.

None of this may stave off the current problems caused by the economic downturn, but even a few might begin to turn the ship of state and chart for it a more promising course.  None of this may end the exodus in the city, but doing so may encourage some of those refugees to return.  None of this may end the distrust of Toledo's neighbors, but might show them that we are making an honest effort to regain such trust.

Doing something so radically different may not solve the problems that the Glass City faces in an economy continually growing tougher, but hold more promise than continuing to follow policies that have long since proven ineffective at doing anything but adding to the city's never-ending budget woes.  Doing so might likewise at least be a small step in regaining the trust of those who long ago lost faith and gave up on the elected leaders that got the city into this mess in the first place.

Now is the time to shake off those shackles of the tired and shopworn past and look ahead.  Now is the time for a clean break with that past and those associated with it, in order to find a better future.  Now is the time to realize that most of today's Council has history of failure and find promise instead in the unrealized potential of new leadership for the Glass City.

Should any of you candidates out there actually believe in any of this and wish to use any or all of this speech, you may do so with my blessing (and with credit given of course, I want to make Sam Seaborn proud).


Roland Hansen said...

I applaud you.

Tim Higgins said...


Don't applaud me, blame Sam Seaborn. I'm just trying to channel him in my own warped and deluded way.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


One small critique, if I may ;-)

Punch it up a bit with some catchy buzz words du jour and hedge the promises a bit to give yourself some wiggle room.

Otherwise people will expect you to keep any promises you make.

Then, this would be the perfect candidates speech; meaningless but sincere (sounding)...

Just trying to help :-)

Tim Higgins said...


I gladly accept your critique. You would be absolutely correct except that this speech was written for the candidate that I would like to have and not for that which we are far too often burdened with.

Personally, I'm afraid that we have all listened to far too many of those perfect speeches of yours already.