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Making Our Vote Count

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

If you don’t vote, you are irrelevant to the process…Only by engaging, engaging, and engaging, can you make things happen.       
-  Jesse Jackson


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

In Lucas County, African Americans showed up in large numbers to have their say in the 2020 general election. Locally, the results represented our demand for policies that address diversity, criminal justice, and economic equity.

Whereas it appears that the Lucas County Board of Elections fulfilled their responsibility to count every vote, the community now must put the heat on institutions and elected officials to deliver a return on our investment.

Black voters have spoken again. What will the response be?

The first response involves an institutional racism review of the City of Toledo’s funding practices to identify active and passive discriminatory policies and processes and rectify them. I met with Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz in April 2019 to request that the City perform a bipartisan Croson study. The Mayor attended a United Pastors for Social Empowerment meeting on February 10, 2020 and promised to complete the systemic review.

The “diversity” study seeks to determine the capacity for black businesses for road work and other construction categories. However, given the past funding inequities in the City’s CDBG program, it is imperative that the study also includes the nonprofit and social services sectors and the purchasing of goods and services.

Addressing funding inequities in construction areas could antagonize the Northwest Ohio Building Trades Council, which wields immense power in the local Democratic party. But the Mayor is uniquely situated to resolve any differences between the minority community and the building trades and facilitate project labor or minority inclusion agreements.

So far, Toledo City Council has vetted Griffin & Strong, P.C., an Atlanta-based law and public policy research firm to conduct Toledo’s study.

Secondly, the number of homicides in Toledo has skyrocketed and many residents feel that authorities have disregarded their well-being in terms of security. When the Toledo Police Department is called, the response has varied, sometimes police officers respond the next day or not at all, several residents have complained.

Also, while the jail population has decreased, the racial disparities and inequity throughout the criminal justice system remain.

Yet, millions of dollars have flowed into Lucas County from the MacArthur Foundation for criminal justice reform.

Departing Sheriff John Tharpe’s DART program was his platform to address addiction and recovery. The election of Tharpe’s successor, Mike Navarre, indicates that black voters want someone committed to new processes in the jail and criminal justice. As a former police chief, Navarre is obligated to be a leader on police reform.

Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon-Wozniak were reelected by a significant margin or didn’t have an opponent. While the commissioners have propelled downtown development and other large-scale projects, including an arena and hotel, most community members would like to see them do other ventures with more direct impact.

The County has addressed poverty with its generic Bridges Out of Poverty program. Still, they have failed to focus on poverty that stems from racism. Wealth and opportunity gaps and other disparities will persist until the nuanced differences between white and racially-generated poverty are truly understood.

Current county efforts have been led by well-meaning but disconnected white bureaucrats who often recoil from the impassioned insight of those who operate at the ground level of social problems. The Commissioners would do well to use their political muscle to include more Blacks to effectuate the policies that the desk jockeys merely love to talk about. These include action agendas in criminal justice, public transportation, and community health.

As we say in the religious community: “Faith without works is dead.”

Said another way, “It’s time for Black voters to insist that our institutions and elected officials do the work we elected them to do.” 

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



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/19/20 09:42:50 -0500.



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