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Meldenís Maturity

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

Humility is the fruit of inner security and wise maturity.          -  Cornel West


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

The local political scene will, almost assuredly, look far different in the 2023-24 election cycle than it does today. Current Lucas County officeholders such as Pete Gerken, Bernie Quilter, Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and Phil Copeland will inevitably exit public service at some point and move on.

Who will occupy these political spaces when they become available?

I am told that Mark Wagoner, Lucas County Republican Chair, has been quietly working behind the scenes building a formidable machine that includes scores of new volunteers and fattened the County GOPís coffers in order to ďget in frontĒ of the anticipated change.

On the Democratic Party side, keep your eyes on Sam Melden, a rising star who is being supported by such luminaries as Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. Melden seems to have arrived at his ďpolitical postpubescenceĒ since previously finishing some 1,800 votes shy of the final spot for City Council-At Large in the 2017 municipal elections.

I recently spoke with a much more humble and wiser Melden to discuss his current campaign for City Council District 5 as well as his long-term political future. 

Perryman: How is your campaign for City Council going?

Melden:  We kicked off last week, weíre canvassing this week and every week between now and the election.  So right now, its recruiting volunteers, raising money and planning different ways to get our message out there.

Perryman: Whatís the long-term political vision for Sam Melden?

Melden:  The answer to this question is one that people donít like.  They donít believe me and they donít like the answer, but this is the truth.  I am focused on the next thing in front of me. I have zero ambition of serving in any elected office outside of my community and letís just say Lucas County.  So someday, Commissioner or something like that, maybe, but thatís not what Iím focused on right now.  Iím excited about serving my neighbors and my neighborhood in District 5 and Iím focused on it and I want to do it for three terms, thatís 12 years.  I donít spend a whole lot of time scheming and dreaming about someday. 

Perryman: Youíve got three children under age eight, and I keep hearing that young people are not running for city council because the pay is so low that it discourages good talent because you canít make a living off of what it pays. 

Melden:  Thatís a challenge for our community.  And as of right now weíre a single income household.  My wife works full-time, but her job is raising children.  Sheís at home with the girls that arenít in school and thatís important to us.  So, Iím with you 100 percent. 

The blessing, the opportunity that I have is being a part of an organization that allows me the flexibility to do this.  When I joined the team at ProMedica I knew that elected office was an ambition of mine and Iím thankful that they have a very creative and innovative view of what it means to be involved in the community, and I think part of that involvement is encouraging their leaders to be leaders in the community.  In my conversations with ProMedica they have been open to that [political candidacy] and I am really thankful for it.

Perryman: What is your role at ProMedica?

Melden:  I work in patient experience and I also work with the volunteer services throughout the metro region.  The title technically is the director of volunteer services.

Perryman: What did you learn from your 2017 experience running for council and how does the insight inform your current candidacy?

Melden:  One lesson is focus.  I think that a first-time candidate has this feeling of wanting to be everywhere. The first time you do something you donít know what you donít know and I felt like I had to be everywhere and thereís this fear of missing out politically.  Thereís an event over here, thereís four events on the calendar this day and so you try to run to all of these different events and youíre really only half there mentally. The truth is that a lot of the people going to these events and festivals are not going to see you.  They are there to enjoy themselves, their family and their friends, and so thatís why this year, this campaign is all door-to-door, boots on the ground. Thatís why we started canvassing in April and itís just direct voter contact, itís aggressive, itís strategic, itís targeted, weíre talking to voters.  For instance, Iím not going to be marching in the Old West End Parade, I wonít be there.  Iíll be knocking on the doors of my neighbors in District 5 talking to them.  So thatís one thing that changed. 

The other thing I learned is that I really want to do this.  I was really encouraged last time, even though I wasnít successful in finishing in the top six. There are people working really, really hard to move this community forward and I think we just have so many opportunities in front of us and I want to be a part of that.

Perryman: Well you sound a lot more mature, focused and less scripted than when I talked to you in 2017. 

Melden:  I appreciate that.  The name of my game this year is authenticity, and thatís not to say that I wasnít being authentic last time, but itís just like everyone knows whatís at stake.  And so, Iím all in, because if I go down this time, I want to go down as myself.  I donít wanna look back and say oh I really held back because I was afraid what this group might think, what that group might think. Go out, be yourself, give it everything you have, leave it all on the field, so to speak, and then deal with what happens. 

Perryman: What specific policies are you proposing?

Melden:  I plan to roll policies out strategically during the campaign. The framework of the campaign is creating safe, strong, sustainable neighborhoods, thatís the whole game, safe, strong, sustainable.  Any policy I roll out fits within one of those themes.

Perryman: By 2020 or 2024, the makeup of Lucas County government could be very different as current officeholders possibly age out. What is the Democratic Party doing as far as creating succession? 

Melden:  I think we canít take anything for granted.  Everyone talks about the blue island in a red state, thatís what Lucas County is.  However, land mass will shrink if weíre not careful and I think the numbers have already shown that thatís happening.  And so, I think that when you talk about sustainability in the Party there are two things that strike me.  One is, within our party, we have to be aggressive with recruiting and making new and accessible avenues to young people to get involved.  And that canít just be young people come to work on campaigns, it has to be young people running for office.  Weíre stronger when we have more candidates and stronger when we have more people in the party and it canít just be about self-preservation and holding onto what we have and so weíve got to be aggressive with getting new people. 

But then the other thing is I think we have to constantly make sure that our message is connecting with real people.  For instance, what does the Lucas County Democratic Party have to say to young families?  Honestly?  What do we have to say to people who are moving out of the community because they donít like the school options?  What do we have to say about charter schools?  What do we have to say about starting a business and economic development?  These are things that young families are thinking about, and I think the Party should be doing more policy rather than the Party being all about creating opportunities for candidates. When we just bank on the candidates coming up with policy, sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesnít. 

Perryman: Mayor Kapszukiewicz has supported your campaign, which is a pretty high-powered endorsement. 

Melden:  Iím glad to have his support, for sure.

Perryman: What other support or endorsements can you claim?

Melden:  Itís May, itís still early.  In 2017 I was endorsed by quite a few building trades, Toledo Federation of Teachers, UAW, Local 500, I was really glad to have their endorsements.  Iím not suggesting theyíre going to go with me again but Iím going through all that process now.  I also got a lot of support from the voters in District 5 last time and I wonít take their support for granted either. So, Iím going out to knock on every door two or three times. I wonít take anything for granted. So, weíll see.

Perryman: Thank You. And good luck.

Melden:  Alright. Thank you. Iím really excited to be at this again. 

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



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/09/19 08:34:51 -0400.



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