A collection of love letters written to the town.
The answer from all of us was always “Toledo!”
My family’s love affair with you didn’t begin in Toledo. Two generations ago we moved here. Both sets of my grandparents were high school loves who moved here for jobs, leaving behind farms for factories and railroads, outer ring suburbs for offices and cafeterias. But you provided a great future for them, and their kids. And like them, you stood up and served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and every time you and they were needed.
My parents did the reverse of their parents. They were high school sweethearts from Libbey High School. My Dad was all set to play football for a certain university to the north (keep the boos or cheers to a low roar), when he got hurt his senior year. He couldn’t play college football, but he could serve. Instead of playing for the Wolverines (I said it, deal with it), he enlisted in the US Navy as Corpsman. Which meant that our family was destined to travel.
Don’t get me wrong, part of my time growing up was with you. I spent a year here while my Dad served a combat tour in Vietnam. And I spent part of Kindergarten here as well. But our family’s travel log included Pensacola, Florida; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Newport, Rhode Island; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Norfolk, Virginia; and Akron, Ohio. But no matter where we wandered, when we were asked where we were from, the answer from all of us was always “Toledo!”.
As soon as I finished law school in Cleveland, I took the first job I found back here, and haven’t wandered away since. For over twenty years, despite going through three law firms, including founding my own, my law practice, and fighting for thousands of working families, it has been here in your Downtown.
Twenty years ago last month, my wife Cheri Holdridge, a Methodist pastor, and I got married. Cheri came to you via Kansas to Texas to Atlanta to Cincinnati to Findlay to Bowling Green. As you can see, she knows wandering to get here too. Eighteen years ago this May, we started a family and we proudly bought a home in one of your oldest neighborhoods, the Old West End. After Becca joined us, James followed a few years after and our family outgrew our first Old West End home and we bought our second.
Now, I know my kids are going to wander away for school. Becca headed off to Ohio State this August (the earlier cheers and boos just switched). And James may stay in a few years or wander away as well as he pursues his dreams. But I’m working to help make sure you are a Toledo where they, and all of your kids will want to call home, no matter where they wander.
On April 25th, I was appointed to your City Council to an at large term, that runs through January of 2018, longer if the people of Toledo decide to keep me in November. But I am already working hard for my city.
I was appointed as the Chair of City Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee. And I am working hard to ensure that we are creating a safe, livable Toledo for all of your families.
As a small business owner, I know the stresses and strains of starting a business from scratch, getting and keeping good employees, getting and keeping good customers and making payroll every month. So, I am working hard to help create new small businesses, grow our existing businesses larger and revitalize all of you. And you do make that easy. With an incredible history to build on, with great resources, and incredible people, we can and will make your future amazing, using your past as well.
I love working with Downtown Toledo to revitalize your Downtown. The UpTown Association, where my business and I are happy members, has some incredible life going on. And you should see what the Marina and Warehouse Districts have in the works. The Old South End and Old West End have some hard work being put into their futures as well by committed volunteers.
But we have to spread this out, so we need bring this new momentum out to Vistula, Englewood, and other neighborhoods back to their past luster. And we have to work hard to maintain Beverly and Old Orchard and Birmingham and so many others.
Toledo, your future is bright, if we work hard together. But like my family before me, I’m ready to serve. So thank you Toledo for bringing me this far, and I can’t wait to make the dreams about you being dreamed by so many a reality.