Getting to Know You: A day in the life of new Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Who really is new Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz?

To answer that question, I spent a day with him to get a glimpse into the man and the leader. His days start early and end late.

In between, I discovered he is a talker, starting conversations which may activate the action plans that improve Toledo's future. Kapszukiewicz leads a city with world-famous companies, including Libbey Glass and Owens Corning, that is still developing its 21 century identity.

Most of his inner circle are women. They help him frame the city's conversation and agenda by making sure he sticks to a packed calendar, filled with business leaders, citizens and city employees.

The mayor speaks as passionately and eloquently about attracting and growing businesses, as he does about his daily tasks of signing ordinances, filling potholes and raking leaves.

One of his priorities is making sure the 2018 proposed operating budget he inherited from his predecessor passes before the March deadline. He will have more ownership over next year's budget.

For some mayors, certain topics are off the table because they are political hot potatoes.

I asked about one: City workers' pensions and health care. Because they are costly to cities, to save money is he open to reform?

"Some of these ideas are going to work. Some of them aren't," Kapszukiewicz said. "But we're going to keep pursuing them and moving our community forward."

But conversations are beneficial for a city on the move if they lead to lasting changes for neighbors.

State and federal data show Toledo's education attainment and achievement levels lag Ohio and the nation.

When I pressed him on how he proposes to raise the education level to attract the future business, Kapszukiewicz did not give a clear plan.

"In terms of systemic change and this is complex," Kapszukiewicz said. "I don't know necessarily how we get there beyond just talking about it."

I also asked the mayor to share one thing people cannot find on Google. For a few minutes, he's stumped, surprising for a talkative and polished politician.

Then he revealed, despite his bookish and serious demeanor, he possesses and leads with a sense of humor, something we confirmed throughout our day with him as he cracked self-deprecating jokes to put his staff, city colleagues, business leaders and neighbors at ease.

The mayor will need to be merry as he starts conversations, and puts policies into motion which will make the Glass City's future shine brighter than its once glorious past.

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