Finley fine choice for new mayorWednesday, May 23, 2007 By Nicholas Mancuso
In April, I requested an interview with mayoral candidate Joe Finley. Surprisingly enough, Finley contacted me and agreed to meet at a neutral location to discuss his upcoming campaign. I asked him many questions pertaining to the city in general and also concerning his views on how he saw the city in the future. Finley’s interest in politics began a long time ago. He said that serving in the Vietnam War really opened his eyes to an aspect of America that intrigued him greatly. When he returned home, Finley studied American history. Despite what people might guess, Finley’s interest in politics didn’t really begin in high school. He said that student government wasn’t something he was interested in, but the group of friends he hung out with were involved in student government and other various school activities. Finley shared his views on what’s changed the most in the city of Akron over the years. First of all, he said one of the changes was neighborhood stability. He said that the neighborhoods seem to be falling apart, and businesses such as Lentines and Acme are no longer neighborhood staples. He also noted as the neighborhoods of Akron seem to fall apart, downtown seems to be growing at an amazing rate. He questioned current Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic’s motives in building downtown and forgetting about the neighborhoods that made Akron strong. People from out of town no doubt have opinions about the city of Akron. Finley said he thinks “corruption” comes to people’s minds when they hear about Akron. He said that when a city has the same mayor for 20 plus years, the mayor himself, as well as his cabinet, become corrupt. Finley said that power tends to go to people’s heads, and he believes mayor Plusquellic is a prime example. Finley also said that if he were elected as the new mayor of Akron, he would be a strong supporter of term limits even if the law does not require it. Instead of corruption, though, Finley wants people from out of town to think of the good things about Akron, such as The University of Akron. He said what is good for the University is good for Akron. Finley also compared Akron to Columbus and other cities that are known for their respected universities. Finley said there is no reason why Akron does not expand its University to encompass every part of the downtown area. Finley would like to see The University of Akron grow rapidly and for Akron to be known for fine academics. Finley also said that he would like for the downtown area to be open 24 hours a day so that college students can roam free and go to Starbucks and Chipotle and not have to worry about crime and corruption. To address Akron’s crime troubles Finley has a plan to increase the police force without raising taxes. The recently failed tax increase proposed by Mayor Plusquellic was an $18 million per year tax. Finley expressed his concern that the advertising for this tax was “Keep Akron Safe and Strong.” The only thing wrong with this advertisement, according to Finley, was that only $2.5 of the 18 million was to be spent on police officers. The remaining cash was to be spent on urban development and other vague adventures. Finley’s cure for the police ailment is to “trim the fat” of the current budget and to reduce the cost of operating the city by cutting out unnecessary funds that are being spent. Finley is concerned about the current debt the city of Akron is in, and he is willing to “take one for the team” by cutting inflated salaries, including his own should he become mayor. Akron’s long term economic health depends on bringing high quality jobs to the city. Finley said the city of Akron was currently $760 million in debt due to poor money management and irresponsible spending. Finley said that the current mayor is too concerned with going after every big business that shows interest in the city, and he is quick to throw cash their way and to provide ridiculous tax breaks. Finley also said that the mayor seems to disregard smaller businesses that come to Akron who may not bring large dollars, but they do provide a significant amount of jobs. Finley said that as mayor, he would focus on smaller businesses that can contribute to the job market. Once the businesses are growing and becoming successful, then it is time to show the big businesses that they too can become successful in our city. Finley said that Mayor Plusquellic has closed many doors and burned many bridges during his tenure as mayor, and he’s left a sour taste in many business owners’ mouths. Not allowing small businesses to set up shop in Akron and shutting the door in their face has created an environment where no one wants to be a business owner in the city of Akron; therefore, we have a significant job availability problem. Finley’s answer to this problem is to “focus on the school of fish, rather than going for the whale.” What this means is that as mayor, Finley would be open to allowing new businesses to set up shop and he would be more than happy to assist them in their success. What Finley does not want is to become a mayor who is known for being friends with only companies who have a lot of money. As I reflect on my interview with Finley, many things come to mind. It’s not everyday that someone who is running for mayor takes time out of his schedule to sit down with a high school student to do an interview. Finley was very down to earth, and he seemed to genuinely care about the city and its residents. Finley was not concerned about bashing Plusquellic and his ways of running the city; rather Finley was simply giving me ways he himself could do it better. Finley is an excellent candidate for mayor, and his goals for the city are new, fresh and obtainable. To learn more about his campaign, visit his web site at www.finleyformayor.com. Everything from his platform to his qualifications for mayor is listed. Take time to research candidates before voting. The future of the city is in the voters’ hands, and it’s up to Akron’s citizens to make the right decision.