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I love your people.

Dear Toledo,

What I love most about you is your complete lack of pretense.  You know who you are, and you’re proud of it.  You’re not New York or LA.  And you don’t care.  Because you’re also not phony.

If I have learned anything about you as a life-long resident, it is this — you are an amazing place with the most-amazing collection of people found anywhere. From the nautical tip in Point Place, through the booming Downtown, sweeping across the neighborhoods of North, Central, and West Toledo, across the Maumee River into East Toledo, and down to the South side, you are an outstanding community.

You have amenities and assets other cities envy. The Toledo Zoo, The Toledo Museum of Art, The Toledo Symphony, the Valentine and Stranahan, the world-famous Mud Hens, The Walleye, Jeep, the University of Toledo, Imagination Station, the fabulous public library system, the Maumee and Ottawa rivers, Swan Creek, vibrant neighborhoods, affordable homes, and even low traffic congestion (except maybe this year with all the work we are doing on your streets).

You are still America’s Glass Capital – even after two centuries. More recently, you reinvented yourself from an automobile parts manufacturing stronghold to a city that attracts investments in new energy technologies like solar and wind. You have nurtured scientific breakthroughs and still have room for a thriving arts community.

Toledo is a one of the most welcoming cities in our nation. Few people realize that you were the first city in North America to form a Sister City relationship (through Toledo Sister Cities International), in 1931 with Toledo, Spain.  Other cities talk about embracing diversity; you take action.  Our diversity includes people from nations all across the globe.  My family traces its roots to the neighborhood called Kuschwantz, which was bounded by Brown Avenue and Hawley, Campbell, and Dorr streets. It was home to Polish immigrants who started arriving to Toledo in the late 1870s. That area is where my grandmother attended church at the former St. Anthony Catholic Church, which still serves as an anchor today for the Junction neighborhood, an area filled with dynamic and hardworking Toledoans trying to bring life and vitality to their part of our city.

You have attracted immigrants from other parts of the world as well. The Old South End, one of our vibrant and growing communities, prominently displays murals that portray Latino cultural themes. I love to see the oversized faces of local and international Latino heroes like Aurora Gonzalez and Sofia Quintero, farm worker activist Cesar Chavez, Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, and painter Frida Kahlo. Our largest Latino community is in East Toledo.

Arab Americans, including Christians and Muslims, have been immigrating to Toledo since the 1800s. In fact, Toledo has the third oldest mosque in the United States and we had the first Arab American mayor of a metro city in the country.  The Chinese community is growing fast with two sister cities – Qinhuangdao and Nanchong – our fastest growing limited English proficient population. People from other communities have immigrated here over the years. They are Hungarian, Polish, Irish, Italian, Lebanese, Mexican, Syrian, Iraqi, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, Somali, Nigerian, and so many more.

I know Welcome Toledo-Lucas County is doing great work and we are looking forward to participating and partnering with its steering committee and helping to build a welcoming and inclusive community for immigrants and refugees.

I am honored to be your Mayor, and I wake up every day motivated to help make you the best you can be.

Sure, I have favorite places to hang out – I have a real soft spot for your parks and waterways – but more than anything else, I love your people.  Honest.  Hard working.  Friendly.  Real.

You all join together – in all types of weather.  That’s why I love T-O-L-E-D-O.

We squeezed a super fast, fun photoshoot into Wade’s busy schedule at the gorgeousness that is St. Clair’s St. — check out the beautifully vibrant Toledo Arts Commission‘s bench! Our mayor’s letter is our forth and final love letter celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month 2018 with our partners Welcome Toledo-Lucas County, a local initiative housed in the Board of Lucas County Commissioners in partnership with LISC Toledo to advance an inclusive and global community. We love IHM month as it highlights some of the best facets of our city. 

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