the Beacon Journal editorial board

In his State of the City speech in March, Mayor Don Plusquellic put aside the question of whether he would seek re-election. He did say that he “may give hints along the way, and overall I intend to keep my talents here in Akron.” Those hints included his enthusiasm for the city’s future — “but only if we do the things necessary to make ourselves better.” He wanted to concentrate on the future. The impression was plain: The mayor is running.

Then the dispute involving Bob Hoch erupted, the mayor having barred the Ward 6 city councilman from attending the speech. The mayor’s office argued that Plusquellic felt threatened by Hoch. The mayor still owes Hoch an apology for his spokeswoman contending, outlandishly, that the council member might shoot him.

A deadline also looms, June 10, for candidates to file in the race for Akron mayor. With each passing week, and the Hoch matter still simmering, questions have moved from when the mayor will announce to whether he will run.

Worth recalling, then, is the tone and direction of the State of the City speech. They amount to a strong case for the mayor seeking an eighth term. Much that he has set in motion remains undone and requires his leadership and attention. Take the massive and complex overhaul of the combined sewer system. The mayor has led the charge in seeking to implement promising and practical “green” alternatives that would ease the huge expense.

The city fire department must get past and recover from the lengthy lawsuit that has harmed its leadership ranks. The mayor’s “bridges” strategy, designed to attract foreign investment and spur new businesses, must be secured, in part, through replenishing the BioInvestments Funds. Downtown, where the city and the mayor have had success, needs a new chapter, its vacancy rate having climbed, proposals for a hotel and arena having sputtered.

The city faces financial challenges. Its poverty rate has been climbing. Among the encouraging signs have been the new pockets of activity, around the arts and entrepreneurship, the young and creative looking to make their mark. All of this energy echoes and complements what the mayor has sought and promoted — fresh ideas and distinctive approaches, including his unfinished business of establishing a local college scholarship fund.

At some point, the mayor’s tenure must end. Better after a deliberate transition.

If the mayor chooses not to seek re-election, a month of turmoil likely will ensue, as potential candidates weigh whether to run. The narrow time-frame increases the risk of misfortune, events conspiring in ways that ill serve the city. That would reflect poorly on the impressive Plusquellic record, upon which he still can build.

The mayor said as much in his State of the City speech. He recalled a friend asking why, after three decades in office, he keeps going. He pointed to the “hopes and plans” for the city. He pledged that he “will always work to make [the city] better.” In this election year, that includes the mayor seeking re-election.