By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
We must trust the people. – Faye Wattleton
It has been a little over a month since Toledo’s political intelligentsia forecasted an unimpeded and surefire path to a second consecutive term for incumbent mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
What a difference a day makes.
Record-breaking homicide and violent crime rates, FBI scrutiny of the Summit Street Improvement Project, and the contempt held by some black leaders offended by Kapszukiewicz’s butterfingered remarks about his lack of black support in the 2017 electoral victory over Paula Hicks Hudson have changed the calculus.
Once seen as infallible, Kapszukiewicz is now perceived as vulnerable by several potential challengers. I spoke with Jan Scotland, a longtime businessman and Republican Party candidate who recently dropped his hat in the ring for mayor of Toledo in 2022.
Here is our conversation:
Perryman: Many readers may not be familiar with you. Would you mind providing a little of your background?
Scotland: I was born in Harlem, New York. My father was a Methodist minister at the Wesley Methodist Church there. He died when I was five years old, so we had to move out of the parsonage and moved to Queens, where I grew up until I went to college. I went to Hampton University, the best HBCU in the country.
Perryman: Howard and a few others might argue about that (laughing).
Scotland: At Hampton, I played football and got my degree in chemistry and was hired by B.F. Goodrich in Akron, Ohio as a chemist. I was the chemical purchasing agent, and was recruited here to Owens Corning as a chemical purchasing supervisor. Some years later, someone approached me about the insurance business, and I’ve since been a State Farm agent for 30 years. I’ve been married for 37 years and have two kids, a boy and a girl. So far, it’s been a good life. Not without its struggles, but a good life.
Perryman: Tell us about your involvement with youth in Toledo.
Scotland: I’ve run the Sleepy Hollow Athletic League for 29 years. Some 86,000 kids have been through the program, teaching them skills, making sure they have fun, and teaching respect for adults. I have a good track record and several kids have gone on and played high school, college, and some pro. It’s been a blessing and something that I can hold high in my accomplishments of the past.
Perryman: Who are some names that we might recognize that have gone through that program?
Scotland: Cheatham Norrils comes to mind. Zia Cooke, who plays basketball for South Carolina University, is another. She’s done well and maintained a good attitude, some of the things I hope we helped instill in her when she was a young person.
Perryman: Why are you running to be mayor?
Scotland: The city is in a mess, and this is a good time to do some things to correct it. Crime-wise, youth-wise, economic development-wise, there’s just a ton of problems that nobody seems to want to put together a transparent plan to solve.
Perryman: Toledo is less safe than it was approximately five years ago. The mass shooting we witnessed on July 4th was upsetting. The tragedy added to the fact that gang-related violence and other violent crime has increased each year over the past few years. Under your administration, will you drive crime down to its previous levels or less? What strategies would you use?
Scotland: The bottom line is that this defund-the-police movement is a detriment to our community and needs to be stopped because it is taking down the morale of the police department. Defund-the-Police has caused many police to retire and made it harder to recruit. People who came up with the slogan don’t live in the neighborhoods that are affected by it. We need to do something about the police that are bad apples, but we need to promote the ones that aren’t. That is absolutely necessary to reduce crime.
Simultaneously, we need citywide youth programs. Right now, we do not. We have a lot of scattered efforts. So, what they need to do is put together a comprehensive program, which is separate as much as possible from the City’s funding, because that’s what kills many of our youth programs. We start them and do it one year; the next year, it’s not there. You have pools one year; and then pools aren’t open the following year. We need to try to get separate funding for youth athletics and youth enrichment to make them sustainable. Otherwise, we make joining a gang easier than joining a team, and we’ve then lost our youth.
Perryman: Would you recommend anything to address youth unemployment?
Scotland: Yes, many youths turn to crime because there are no job opportunities. So, not the least important is we have to try to get our youth struggling with their academics into programs like electricians, pipefitters, and other vocations where there’s a significant shortage.
Perryman: Public safety encompasses a massive portion of Toledo’s budget. What is your position on reducing the amount of the budget that public safety receives, possibly placing more in social services?
Scotland: No, I would maintain the level in the police department and the fire department because those are absolutely necessary. As far as social services are concerned, there is funding from the state and other kinds of things that enter into that, but I would not sacrifice police and the fire for social services.
Perryman: Would you retain or replace the police chief?
Scotland: I don’t know enough about the police chief and would not predict a removal or replacement until I can win the election. I would certainly have conversations with all those in key positions and decide whether I would want to hold onto them or not.
Perryman: The exact question for the fire chief, would you retain or replace?
Scotland: The same answer, but he’s a good guy.
Perryman: What are the most challenging issues in the City’s budget?
Scotland: My problem with the City right now is anytime they have a shortage, they go after the public to pay for it. You can only do that so many times successfully. Several past proposed levies fell short as a result. But then the City has resorted to hidden taxes by adding a water tax, a garbage tax, or you had the speed light cameras. All these are taxes not voted for by the public.
Perryman: As Mayor Jan Scotland, how do you go about developing a good leadership team?
Scotland: Well, I’ve known people over the years that I think would be excellent in certain positions, but the bottom line is you have to come into office with a vision. I have ideas of what I want to do in every department, so I have to find people ready to move forward.
Perryman: Do you have experience successfully organizing a diverse and inclusive team to accomplish a significant task?
Scotland: I’m now the chairman of the President’s Committee for recruitment and retention for the University of Toledo Medical College, and I’ve been doing that for 10 years. We have a diverse committee of people from the community, including doctors and lawyers, and others on that committee. Our mission has been to raise more money to increase black students in the medical school and increase student enrollment in the health college programs for nurses and physician assistants. We’ve significantly increased money for scholarships and it has gone very well, I’m pleased to say.
Perryman: Can you be specific about the types of things you’ve done in the black community?
Scotland: The Sleepy Hollow Athletic League by itself has taken care of thousands of kids, and I’ve been involved with this recruiting of black doctors and medical professionals for over ten years. In addition, I was, for many years, board chair of the Fredrick Douglass Community Association. I also chaired NAACP Freedom Fund for about five years in a row, way back in the day.
Perryman: And, the Neighborhood Health Association. I recruited you to that board.
Scotland: That’s right. I’m still on there. When people view my resume of things I’ve done in the black community, no one matches what I’ve been involved in. I’ve done these things since I first arrived in Toledo.
I was also involved with a political group with Judge Doneghy that tried to encourage the Democratic Party to pay more attention to the black community when we weren’t getting their attention even though we voted for them. So, one of the reasons I became a Republican was to try to balance that out and it did help back in the day. Since the beginning, I’ve been involved in one black organization or another, and I’ve never stopped.
Perryman: How do you compare or contrast your candidacy to the other mayoral candidates?
Scotland: I won’t know the exact candidates until we all get our petitions in, but it seems like it’s Wade, Carty and myself. I don’t see the vision from Wade; let’s just put it that way, which is likely why he calls for a committee to meet every time something important comes up. Carty is a formidable candidate, and a lot of people like him. However, I don’t think when it came to business he made the best deals for Toledo, such as the one he did with Owens Corning.
However, I can’t say anything bad about Carty. I like Carty, but I don’t think he has the vision that fits the time right now. We can’t take him for granted. He is the best campaigner in town, but I just don’t see where he brings anything new to the table.
On the other hand, I bring a lot of new ideas, and whether you like them or not, they’ll be out there for you to comment on. When it’s all said and done, I’ll have a direction that we’re going to move in.
Perryman: Are you an outside-the-box thinker?
Scotland: I don’t think we’re inside the box, but there are cities all over this country that have found their niche and have implemented programs to bring commerce and constituents back to their city. Why Toledo is stuck on what we’re doing, I have no idea. I went out to Kansas City, and how they attract people to the economic areas they’re trying to promote from a tourist standpoint is amazing. We have nothing like that here.
Perryman: What do you envision for Toledo?
Scotland: We don’t have a black enterprise area. Junction, Dorr, and Detroit used to be big time as far as people promenading up and down the boulevard and going there for entertainment and food. Why we haven’t put that back together and have allowed some of our anchors in that area to disappear, is negligent and thoughtless. Why can’t we go in and revitalize that area for entrepreneurship?
Meanwhile, downtown looks great. We have the MudHens baseball, the Huntington Center, and gambling. That’s fantastic, but there should be a black center for sure. When you go to various cities, they have diverse entertainment centers where people can get to easily.
I plan to bring black enterprise back to Toledo.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD at email@example.com