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Bridging Cultural Differences

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

[We live in a world] where inclusion is critical and connection is inevitable.

                  –  Jean Lipman-Blumen  


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

It happened first to Jack Ford. Next it was Michael Bell. Paula Hicks-Hudson’s defeat for re-election makes it the third consecutive time that an incumbent African-American mayor has been defeated in a bid to keep his or her job.  The common thread is that each black hopeful carried the majority African-American wards by a wide majority but received little support elsewhere.

My take on the 2017 mayor’s race?

No Votes/No Power

Obviously, after three consecutive defeats, what sticks out most prominently is that the African-American community will have to find a way to break what has become a type of “cultural winner-take-all” mentality or zero-sum approach to local elections.

Reality says that given our proclivity to hang out at home or somewhere else on election day, there are just not enough African-American votes in Toledo to elect a mayor on black votes alone.

Taking 95 percent of one-fourth of a pie while leaving the rest of the goodies on the table for somebody else just isn’t enough to connect across the cultural and generational differences that represent the reality that is Toledo, Ohio. Said differently, when we put all of our eggs in one basket, the math never works.

How do we pursue inclusiveness and racial diversity in Toledo city government given the results of the November 7 election?

African-American leadership will have to continually branch out, working at building partnerships with other branches of government, the business community, nonprofits and our regional neighbors such as suburban mayors. These relationships are in addition to those that need to be nurtured outside of traditional black wards such as in Point Place, Alexis Road and Beverly neighborhoods.

My take on the 2017 council races?

Put the People In The Right Seats

Cecelia Adams, comfortable in a wide variety of cultural settings, performed admirably. Larry Sykes survived and Harvey Savage did extremely well for a first-time candidate.

The voters having the right people on the bus, the challenge will be for council to get them in the right seats. The task is to find a way to work positively with Mayor-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz. The choice of selecting the next city council president will be crucial if council is to write meaningful policy or legislation, get the votes needed to pass it rather than the gridlock that results from an acrimonious relationship with the mayor. Look for good soldier Matt Cherry to become the next council president.

The second challenge for council, with its two new faces, is to find a way a way to work together as a group. Policy thinkers such as DAdams and Sandy Spang (the top vote getter) will need to work collaboratively with policy doers such as Lindsay Webb, Gary Johnson or Nick Komives. The point is to eliminate obstructionists or those who might try to “box-in” the newcomers.

Where do we go from here?

Black Dots on White Rectangles

Look for State Representative Michael Ashford to be appointed to take over as Lucas County Treasurer to replace Kapszukiewicz. This appointment will be the impetus for other dominoes to fall in succession.

Ashford’s appointment will accomplish three things potentially. With State Senator Edna Brown’s approaching retirement, Ashford and Teresa Fedor won’t have to slug it out for Brown’s seat.  So it avoids a conflict and helps the party come back together from the hard feelings generated by Kapszukiewicz’s decision to run against the incumbent and endorsed mayor.

Secondly, an appointment to Lucas County Treasurer opens up Ashford’s House of Representatives seat for a variety of people, which might also heal the party. The 44th House District seems to be a perfect landing spot for say, Paula-Hicks Hudson.

For certain, the appointment of Ashford could heal the fresh wounds of defeat for the black community and creates an opportunity for either Yvonne Harper, Mayor Hicks-Hudson or even a Tyrone Riley to step up immediately, which in turn will then create an opportunity to keep flowing. It also guarantees that Teresa Fedor goes to the Ohio Senate, which opens up her house seat for Lindsay Webb, and that opens up another new face on council (Savage?). 

Ashford has skillfully climbed up the leadership ladder, having performed well on city council and serving in a leadership capacity on the State level. He is currently a ranking committee member in the Ohio House of Representatives. So it makes a lot of political sense for Michael Ashford to succeed Wade, not only because of his record of service, but also because it avoids a fight and creates additional opportunities for others. 

Is it enough to bring more inclusion and diversity to the Democratic Party?

“I’m going to keep an open mind,” says Jimmie Snodgrass, a longtime Democratic Party official. “There’s gonna be change, but if they don’t have any color in the new administration I’m gonna call it for what it is.”

Amen on that.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:38 -0700.



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