With labor, I understand
contracts and unions and what theyíre looking for versus
what the city is looking for. So, I can give my input on
And then, being in
education, Iíve served on various committees. Again, my
passion is young people and so with the city, looking at
ways that we can implement programs and opportunities for
our young people is a high priority for me.
Perryman: Describe your
experience working with citizens from a) various cultural
backgrounds and b) diverse generational categories.
McPherson: As a city
official, I have not worked with many cultural backgrounds.
Itís hard not being able to get out and actually meet people
with everything being on Zoom because of COVID. Iím meeting
mostly officials and directors. I have talked to landlords,
mostly white landlords, expressing their concerns with
Section 8 vouchers and not agreeing with how itís coming
down. I do understand where theyíre coming from.
I struggle with decisions
that are maybe good for some, but not good for all. Thatís
when I have to take some quiet time and pray for direction
because I want to do my best for all of Toledo citizens,
understanding that often the decisions that you make are not
going to be popular with some of the people.
Perryman: Interests often
diverge when weíre talking about diverse ethnic and cultural
backgrounds or various socioeconomic backgrounds, including
the haves and the have nots. What is your experience in
balancing these diverse interests?
McPherson: My seniors are
very important to me as well as young people. That was one
of my concerns over the shooting at the Parqwood Apartments
because I was under the impression that the Parqwood
Apartments were still just for seniors. Now, you can reside
under 55 if you have a disability. I was not aware of that
and when I went over there that night of the shooting until
the police officers clarified that for me.
When I did the press
conference there, my concern was for the seniors staying in
that complex. I talked with them and wanted them to know
that weíre working with LMH to ensure that they feel safe
and Iíve been back over there a couple of times since then.
I served Christmas dinner with the manager and also brought
breakfast for the young residents because I didnít want it
just to be a one-time thing.
Then, dealing with the
haves and the have nots, I guess thatís the bulk of the
Section 8 voucher issue. I understand the intent is to help
widen the opportunities for voucher holders to live
anywhere, though I donít believe the legislation is the best
way to make that happen.
Perryman: Please elaborate.
McPherson: Landlords that
donít want people with Section 8 vouchers staying in their
properties will find a way to get around it because not all,
but those that are just adamant against it, are going to do
other things to make that not happen. I think we do more
harm than good in some ways, and that was my take on the
section 8 voucher legislation.
I think that LMH could
purchase more properties and self-place residents versus
saying to landlords that you have to accept these vouchers.
Perryman: What is the most
pressing issue facing Toledo?
McPherson: I think there are
two. The rise of homelessness in Toledo is increasing every
day because people are being evicted. Second, the gun
violence in the City of Toledo is crazy.
Perryman: How do we address
McPherson: As I told the
mayor, weíve got to admit that there is a problem and that
it is important to us and by investing dollars to rectify it
with young folk. Put down the guns and pick up what? What
are we offering? Where are the opportunities? What
programs are out there for young people right now?
Perryman: Are our
Perryman: What would you do
to change them?
McPherson: They used to be
called neighborhoods, then they took off the neighbor and
just called it a Ďhood because we no longer have neighbors.
Weíve got to invest in our neighborhoods. We have so many
abandoned houses and, if theyíre not abandoned, theyíre
halfway up, half down.
Perryman: In what
neighborhood do you live?
McPherson: Iím on
Avondale, right off of Junction in the Junction Coalition
area. Just on my block, we have maybe five houses left now,
and four of them are empty.
Perryman: Two final
questions, you can answer in which order you want, but the
first one is if you had a $2 million grant, how would you
choose to spend that money? Number two, when you hear about
something that concerns your constituents, what steps do you
take to see that the concern is resolved?
McPherson: Iíll take the
latter one, first.
Once a resident shares an
issue with me, I tell them to please leave your name and
number and give me 24 hours to get back to you. If you have
not heard back from me in 24 hours, call me back, I will not
And, since Iím still
learning how to navigate the system, having a go-to person
you can contact with questions is invaluable. I usually call
Mr. D (Gerald Dendinger), our Clerk of Council, because he
is so knowledgeable. He often directs me, or if itís
something with having your alley cleaned or having some
garbage picked up or something, I can call Engage Toledo
myself, tell them what the issue is. Theyíre usually pretty
good about taking care of it.
I had a gentleman call me
the other day and said city sewage is backing up in his
basement. He had been trying unsuccessfully to contact his
district councilperson. I told him that I would forward the
email to his district councilperson and Ed Moore, who is
over public utilities, to look into it. Thatís how I handle
concerns. I try to direct constituents to the correct
person, and then Iíll call that person back to see if
theyíve gotten the issue resolved. If they havenít, then
Iíll just recycle and do it all over again.
question? I would use the funding for youth programs, youth
summer jobs and incentives for young people.
Perryman: Early on, you
stressed that you had to jump right into, what was for you,
a new and unfamiliar experience. Please elaborate on your
experience of still learning to navigate the process.
McPherson: Yes, itís a lot
to navigate, and thereís a lot to learn. The four of us new
council members were dropped straight in the deep end. We
were sworn in on Friday, and we had a council meeting on
Tuesday. You didnít have a lot of preparation time, so itís
in and get moving. Just learning the procedures of how they
do their agenda meetings versus the actual council meeting
and how things are brought to council is a massive task.
Perryman: What can you tell
others who find themselves thrown into a similar sink or
McPherson: Everybody has
their own agenda, and I tell people I am a team player, and
there are 12 members to this team. I always want to play
with the team, under the concept that we are better together
and we can do great things together. That is my motto. We
donít have to agree upon everything, but we can agree to
disagree and always stand as a united front when we are out
front. I am not delusional in thinking that I can come up
with grandiose ideas and make them happen all by myself. I
need the other 11 players to make it happen.
I also want people to
understand that we have to be compassionate and show people
that we care. I donít have all the answers, but Iím out here
trying. Are you your brotherís keeper? Yes. Iím out every
third Saturday feeding the homeless because Iím blessed to
be able to do it, and God has placed that on me to do. Iím
all for the people, and I pray each day that God gives me
everything that I need to do his will in this position. If
and when I falter, I can forgive myself, get up and try to
get it right the next day. Thatís it.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at