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
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
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
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
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
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