Written by J. Patrick Eaken
Former Oregon Mayor Marge Brown welcomed over 200 guests into a packed city
council chamber on Monday to say farewell.
Brown was defeated for a third term
by Oregon’s new mayor, former councilman Mike Seferian, on Nov. 3 by a 61 to 38 percent margin. Seferian was sworn in the day prior to Browns’ farewell party.
Brown vowed that she would remain involved in her community and Northwest Ohio.
“My disappointment is not to be able to work with you on regionalism, but I’m not riding that horse out of the city,” Brown said with a tear in her eye.
She did promise that instead of “riding that horse,” she was always willing to “ride on a Harley with the Vietnam veterans” to show her support for those who have contributed military service.
She then turned to Toledo Mayor-Elect Mike Bell, and said, “Mayor-elect, it’s an honor to know you. You are going to do wonderful work for the City of Toledo. If you need any help in regionalism, call me. That’s my bag — regionalism. We’re in this world together.”
The guest speaker list was like a who’s who of Northwest Ohio politicians, including Bell, Toledo Mayor Carleton S. Finkbeiner, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, and State Senator Teresa Fedor, Governor Ted Strickland and U.S. Senator George Voinovich sent representatives from their office.
There were also members from Brown’s graduation class, the Clay High School Class of 1955 present. After graduating from high school and college, Brown spent 37 years in education and contributed another 16 in city government as council woman and mayor.
Other speakers included politicians from Maumee, Port Clinton, Jerusalem Township, Lake Township, Northwood, along with other state officials, leaders of civic organizations, directors of service and health care organizations the mayor supported, and other community leaders.
Many speakers brought former Mayor Brown plaques and commendations recognizing her contributions. After over 20 presentations, some on the luncheon’s agenda and others impromptu, Brown addressed a standing ovation.
“I really have to thank all my friends, all my connections, and all the people here who have supported me,” Brown said. “My nameplate said, ‘God is in Charge,’ and that’s how it was done.”
Many of the speakers said they believed the former mayor was not going away quietly.
“You can tell coming into a room the feelings people have for the person being honored,” said Kaptur. “I can feel it and that feeling will be there always.
“When I think of memories, both large and small things come to mind. For example, all the work that has been done to open up the waterfront and open up the marinas. All these efforts seem so simple, but they take so very, very long,” Kaptur continued, noting Brown’s commitment to veterans, also.
“Marge was always coming to events outside of Oregon to show us regional cohesiveness,” Kaptur added, addressing Brown. “Somebody will say retired. I don’t really buy that. I define retire as getting a new tire. I know as the weeks proceed, you will pick which of those you will pursue based on what you have already done.”
Ted Rutherford, the next TMACOG chair and a member of MOMMA, arrived from his village of Green Springs with a similar message.
“She isn’t done, folks,” Rutherford said. “TMACOG isn’t going to get rid of her. MOMMA isn’t going to get rid of her and I’m not going to get rid of her. Mayor Brown has been so important to TMACOG — to MOMMA. I can’t tell you all the things she has done.
“I can tell you TMACOG can appoint people, and you’re appointed,” Rutherford adding, addressing Brown. “I always said Green Springs was the best village in the world, and she always said Oregon was the best city, so we never conflicted. At TMACOG, we’re going to keep her around because we love her.”
Senator Fedor echoed Kaptur and Rutherford’s words. So did Mayor Finkbeiner and Mayor-elect Bell.
“She always had the core of the community in her mind and in her heart,” Fedor said. “I don’t think she’s going to be gone long — we’re going to encourage her to continue her service to the community. When I see her I like to give her a great big hug. She’s not done. Your life in politics is not over, young lady. You’ve got more to come.”
Finkbeiner said, “You’ve got a hell of a mayor, Oregonians. You’re only going to find out after she’s left you. You’ve got to have a fighter for your community and she’s a fighter for Oregon and she’s a fighter for Northwest Ohio. She will be missed.
“I’m not apologizing, but in all honesty the pre-election negative publicity that happened should not have happened,” the Toledo mayor continued. “I think our future is much brighter than what the news media wants to portray it.
“The true thing is she isn’t going anywhere, just like me. I’m not going anywhere. Titles are one thing — public service as a career is another,” concluded Finkbeiner.
Bell, the former state fire marshal, noted Browns’ commitment to fire and life squads and homeland security. Bell even credited Brown for giving him the incentive to run for mayor.
“As a person, I got to know her from the standpoint of being a fire chief,” Bell said. “Just to be there and see how she covers the issues of the City of Oregon, because a lot of times those issues just got ignored. She didn’t do that.
“I look at Marge at being a kind of mentor to me because a lot of times she could sit down with me and explain things. I think you’ve got a bit of a hero in Mayor Brown.”
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