How we can make Columbus the innovative city it was always meant to be.
A Platform for Change
As a city, Columbus’ priorities should not be waving great fanfare about the latest unattractive, new, gentrifying, market-rate apartment buildings or tall skyscrapers in downtown Columbus. Columbus has always lacked something that can truly identify itself with the rest of the country.
I want Columbus to be a city that we can all be proud of. I want other cities to look at us because of our innovative and thoughtful ways of how we address our social and economic problems. Caring for our homeless, seniors, and marginalized populations. Providing affordable housing solutions, safe neighborhoods, community policing, 21st century transit and mobility, and an open city democracy.
As mayor, I will no longer punish the have-nots and work hard to uplift everyone. Real change will happen when Columbus has a mayor whose priorities are for all the people and of the people. Not the developers, corporations, their lobbyists, and other private interests.
As a candidate for Columbus City Council in 2019, I proposed a $250 million affordable housing bond package to be voted on. Ginther proposed a $50 million bond package that was approved and created 1,300 units. His $50 million of bond funds were depleted by the end of 2021. Due to his lack of foresight, there was no bond funding for affordable housing units available during the entire year of 2022. My $250 million bond package proposal in 2019 could have built at least 6,000 units.
Between 2018 and 2022, the mayor's tax abatement incentive policy created 1436 set aside units for those with incomes between $52,500 and $63,000. Not one unit was built for those with incomes under $40,000. Ginther’s tax abatement policy allows for what is known as a “buy out” option. Along with many others, I testified against implementing this buy option as part of tax abatement legislation. With a 15-year 100% tax abatement in hand, some developers chose to take the buy out option on 134 units. Ginther’s housing policies have not put a dent in our affordable housing crisis.
Since 2021, there has been 36,500 evictions filed, close to 300 homeless citizens in Columbus have died, and about 55,000 people in Columbus are paying 50% or more of their incomes to pay for rent. The three most common occupations in Columbus, all pay less than $19 an hour on average, which is not enough to find decent housing. Think about that for a moment.
This affordable housing crisis has been staring my opponent in the face for the last 7 years. His tax abatement housing strategy creates exclusionary market rate housing, increases economic and social segregation, adds to evictions, and removes seniors and others on fixed incomes from their homes due to escalating property tax increases. Zoning reform, a bond package and tax abatements are not going to get the job done.
My affordable housing policy consists of:
In July of 2021, I appealed to Ginther and county officials to commit $60 million each of the taxpayers American Rescue Plan funds. I also wrote to and encouraged The Columbus Partnership to match the $60 millions, dollar for dollar. This would create an immediate infusion of $180 million to build over 5,000 affordable housing units for those with incomes of $40,000 and less. I am committed to make this happen.
I will increase the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Hotel-Motel Tax revenue share from 8.43% to 25%.
Create legislation to enact an Empty Homes Tax on vacant properties in order to incentivize and add more new single family home construction. This will also remove neighborhood eyesores and criminal activities from taking place in abandoned properties. The collected tax revenue from those who refuse to rehab “empty homes” will go towards constructing affordable housing units and paying for housing repairs for low-moderate income homeowners.
I will press the Columbus Partnership to establish its own Affordable Housing Trust Fund – It’s time they became a true “Partner” and not just an organization of wealthy capitalists that receives tax incentives and more than its share of infrastructure tax dollars that protect their investments.
I shall lobby and hold Intel’s feet to the fire and use our water and sewer as leverage and have them commit towards providing millions towards affordable housing. With over $2 billion in tax incentives from the state, tax dollars from other municipalities, along with federal CHIP’s funding, Intel is obligated to assist with our housing crisis.
I will spend tax dollars on purchasing land in and close to our urban job centers and giving that land to non-profit housing CDC’s to build housing solely for those of incomes of $45,000 and less. And use minority non-profit Community Development Corporations (CDC’s) and other non-profit affordable housing developers who haven’t been corrupted by city halls pay to play system.
I have already encouraged Nationwide Children’s Hospital to spend about 2.25% ($67.5 million) of their $3.3 billion dollar expansion to construct no less than 100 affordable housing units for the hospitals low wage earner employees so they can walk to work.
I support the Fair Housing city wide citizen driven ballot initiative that will create a system of incentives for property owners to offer fair rents and disincentives for landlords and developers who engage in price gouging. Among other things, this ballot initiative will also give tenants more rights and allow them to sue their landlords.
I propose giving tax abatements to landlords of multi-unit apartment buildings in certain neighborhoods who will keep rents affordable.
Require landlords to give tenants 6 months advance notice on rent increases.
We will provide free public legal representation for tenants who face court evictions.
I will ensure that there is adequate new affordable housing constructed for those with disabilities and special needs.
In Columbus, tax abatements will not be permitted for new single-family homes valued over the previous year's annual average median sale price plus $20,000. The current median sale price is $280,000.
I will support funding income-based low interest loans and grants to assist first time homebuyers with down payments.
Crime Prevention, Community Policing, Police Reform
On August 17, Columbus tragically recorded its 100th homicide of the year. This is the second fastest rate since 2021 that the city reached that number. In that year, Columbus witnessed 205 people killed as a result of homicides.
Ginther has been stating since he was elected Mayor in 2016 that, "Columbus is the safest big city in America." And during this election year he continues to make more empty promises, present more bureaucratic proposals, and place unexperienced political appointees into positions of authority to prevent crime.
Ginther's private developer-driven tax abatement policy defunds public education along with many other public services. This reduces our children's ability to escape poverty. At the same time, it directly increases the likelihood of increasing crime.
To address crime prevention and violence directly, I believe that Columbus must focus first on the underlying problems. Decent affordable housing, public education, systemic racism, child and mental health care, good paying jobs, 21st century mass transit, and neighborhood and commercial infrastructure reinvestment. If the number one priority of our current mayor is to continue to protect and enhance the investments of corporate Columbus, luxury real estate developers and special interests, the people will be left behind and crime will rise.
Because of the City’s uncontrolled and unaccountable $20 million buyout of 100 police officer's contracts and others who have retired, Ginther radically increased an already existing shortage of qualified and properly trained officers. Many experienced, high-quality officers were literally driven out of the force.
More than ever, how an officer utilizes his or her time on the job is crucial. For example, having police officers sitting in their cruisers while city paid contractors bulldoze a homeless encampment is a gross waste of tax dollars and time. It also looks very bad and traumatizes the homeless who are being misplaced.
We need to minimize the use of police officers for non-violent offenses and calls that are related to mental health issues and other non-police emergencies. Cities around the U.S. demonstrate that Community Policing reduces crime and boosts trust within neighborhoods. It contributes to much needed legitimacy with everyone in need and their neighbors. To prevent crime you have to be smart and tough at the same time.
Utilizing more funds for community policing/mental health response teams is effective. Not only do these teams allow officers to respond to more serious violent crimes and conduct neighborhood patrolling, but the presence of a police officer on mental health calls can be traumatizing for those in need of help. I support the creation of “sub-stations” for non-response teams to be stationed within various precincts throughout the city.
Twenty years ago, as candidate in a Columbus City Council primary election, I called for more bicycle and foot patrols. That has yet to be carried out by my opponent. Police officers must be familiar with their patrol areas. The present 80 percent of officers who live outside the city often do not know their zones and precincts. They should know the owners of local small businesses and their customers, visit neighborhood schools, recreation centers and church leaders, and talk to residents on sidewalks and front porches. These contacts build mutual knowledge and trust, and thus a safer city. Police should also be familiar with the social and cultural makeup of the neighborhoods that they patrol.
There is also success in multi-faceted street level crime prevention programs in Black and low-income neighborhoods. This city must actively reinvest in these commercial corridors while supporting small business owners. It must reclaim vacant and public spaces, and upgrade the overall infrastructure in these neighborhoods. When young people feel a sense of community and pride in their neighborhoods, promoted by respected “community ambassadors,” “bad things” diminish.
I also support non-profit community-based programs that utilize private residential citizen-owned cameras to monitor high crime areas. Video footage is recorded 24/7. The cameras and operation of these programs save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each year. Organized citizen networks can advance the ability to enforce accountabilities for all crimes and provide swift effective critical sharing of evidence with police.
Accepting Lateral Transfers into the department is a failure. The CPD's recreating and bringing back the Jump Out Boys is one of the most reckless and ill-conceived ideas yet. If the murder of Tyre Nichols wasn’t enough to warn our police chief that such a unit is a recipe for disaster, then this community will continue to lose all trust in our police chief, the mayor, city council and the Public Safety Director. Why does Ginther not learn from the ongoing experiences of cities across the U.S.?
If Columbus is to achieve the level of accountability and community trust that we desperately need, we can no longer tolerate the “blue code of silence.” The Chief of Police and other high-ranking officers who have the authority to discipline officers must do so as a matter of course. If this cannot be done, then the City must stop protecting bad officers from misconduct through qualified immunity.
We cannot continue to bail out bad cops who know they will not face substantial disciplinary actions because their livelihoods will be saved with million-dollar city tax dollar settlement checks. Police officers must no longer be trained like soldiers but as guardians, to protect all the people. A police officer’s personnel files on both misconduct and commendations should be part of their permanent record until they leave the force. The entire force urgently needs much more and improved training on de-escalation tactics.
Environment, Infrastructure,Transit &
I have defended the environment since the first Earth Day in 1970. In 8th grade, my teacher charged my classmates and me with an Earth Day project. I chose to demonstrate against pollution. My father helped me to build a wooden box with a lid. It that was 5 feet long, 2 feet wide and 20 inches deep. I filled it with trash and garbage. The box represented a casket. My classmates and I marched together and they helped me to carry it around the block to the back yard of my garage where we buried it. This was meant to symbolize that pollution kills. Now of course I was 13-years old and in 8th grade. But seriously, over the years, I fought against development projects that would negatively impact the environment of Darby Creek, Pickerington Ponds Nature Preserve, and the Morse-Bethel Connector. More recently, I fought beside residents of the Little Turtle Civic Association while we tried to save the historic grand greenway entrance into their community from the construction of the city of Columbus’ corrupt Little Turtle Roadway Improvement Project. I served as one of the original Board members for the local watershed group, The Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed. And I have led the Tuttle Park Community Recreation Council as its President for 31 years while transforming Tuttle Park into one the city’s premier parks and recreation centers.
As some of you know, compared to a few of Columbus’ peer cities like Pittsburgh , Louisville and Cincinnati, our tree canopy is only 22%. Those 3 cities tree canopy ranges between 40% and 37%. It appears that the mayor’s climate action plan is going in reverse. Columbus has the fastest growing heat island of 60 major U.S. cities and 8th most intense where temperatures are several degrees hotter than surrounding areas. A recent report was issued stating that Columbus, Ohio had the worst air quality in the United States. The contributing factor being carbon dioxide. A United Nations panel of scientists that study climate change stated, “Humanity is on thin ice.” For too long this city has sacrificed woodlands, trees, and greenspace for economic development without tree or other environmental replacement policies. Why should we believe that the mayor is going to do something about it now? Because he says so during another election year?
In July 2021, I was contacted by a resident of the Walnut Creek Commons in Columbus and near Little Turtle. Next to their one-acre property sat 27.88 acres of woodlands that was home to wild turkeys, fox, deer, owls, hawks, raccoons, numerous bird species, wetlands, natural springs and vernal pools. A well-known developer sought a variance to develop the nearly 28 acres with 156 one- and two-bedroom single family rental units. Of course the developer hired one of the city’s most politically connected zoning law firms that just happens to be a huge campaign contributor, to secure a zoning variance. Despite a near majority opposition of the development from nearby neighbors, the variance was unanimously approved. 25 and the 27.88 acres of woodlands, wetlands, vernal pools, and natural springs was decimated. There was no mitigation for tree replacement. The city recklessly destroys its limited natural woodlands and greenspace. This is especially true with respect to the banks of its rivers and tributaries where architecturally unattractive development takes place.
Tree removal in our city’s right away happens all too often and new tree plantings for new developments, parking lots, and constructing tree lined street center medians are virtually non-existent. There needs to be a lot focus on our low income and minority neighborhoods. I will see that funding is provided to double our tree canopy coverage by 2040.
Columbus is decades behind all of its urban peer cities in the effort to create a 21st century transit system and mobility standards. And the need cannot wait any longer due the economic growth of Central Ohio. I fully support a more reliable and efficient transit system and free COTA transit.
Our streets, bike lanes, curbs, roads, and sidewalks are crumbling all around us and unsafe for pedestrians and mobility. Our city’s pedestrian crosswalks are poorly marked. We urgently need modified traffic signals that allow pedestrians to safely cross streets, and more flashing beacons at crosswalks. There seem to be no traffic police. Pedestrians get struck by vehicles in crosswalks and the driver of the vehicle does not get cited. Sidewalks, as well as streets are blocked with scooters, bicycles because of a lack of bike racks, advertising benches.
I have bicycled my entire life. I bike for enjoyment, to go to work, and for exercise. I am defined by bike advocates as an “enthused and confident” bike rider. Meaning that I feel relatively safe riding on the streets of Columbus without protected bike lanes. But I completely understand the need for protected lanes for the majority of bike riders who do not feel safe on the streets of Columbus and support the funding to construct protected bike lanes.
In the 12 years that Ginther has been Council President and Mayor, across the city, neighborhood leaders and parents who are concerned for their children’s safety, have never stopped calling for miles and miles of new sidewalks. And their pleas continue to fall upon deaf ears. Instead, hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars pour into infrastructure improvements in the Short North, Arena District, Crew Stadium’s Astor Park, for the Convention Center, North Market District, Easton, and Scioto Peninsula. This is all to protect and enhance the investments of corporate Columbus and the luxury real estate developers who pull Ginther’s puppet strings, control city policy, and fill his campaign coffers. It is long overdue that our neighborhoods take priority over the city’s rich and powerful.
our Unsheltered,Housing First Initiative
When it comes to addressing the needs of our city’s unsheltered, Ginther is clueless on what to do. He continues to write checks, dishes them out and washes his hands of the problem. His reactionary solutions to this city’s social and economic needs is not meeting anyone’s needs. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on bulldozing homeless encampments while police officers watch from their cruisers confirms that his policies are inhumane and he is unfit to lead.
A record number of evictions were filed in Franklin County in 2022 of almost 21,000 people. That is a 41% increase from 2021 when 13,500 were evicted. In addition, 2,694 students in Franklin County were reported as homeless last year. And over the last two years, nearly 300 people in Columbus died from homelessness. My “Housing First” initiative is a humane step in the direction of remaking the city to serve its residents.
I will create an Office of Transitional Housing. It will support my “Housing First” initiative.
This will be funded with federal (HUD), state, county and city dollars. It will demand the support of corporate sponsorships, our local social and public health agencies, faith-based organizations congregations.
We will construct Tiny Home Communities consisting of perhaps 20-30 120 square foot units with each one containing a dorm style frig, wall heaters, cots with a mattress, fire extinguisher, and storage for clothing and necessities. Each community will provide security, hand washing stations, garbage services, bathroom facilities, electricity, a centralized kitchen and potable water. Wrap around services will be provided to address mental health issues, substance abuse, and to provide employment opportunities.
We will construct or rehab multi-unit dwellings for transitional public housing.
For those who are living in encampments, we will provide portable toilets and 10-yard dumpsters (where they can be provided) until residents can be relocated into transitional housing.
The city will construct its own warming centers.
We will have contracts with hotels to lease rooms for short-term transitional housing if needed.
We will partner with ADAMH to create a 24/7 Harm Reduction Shelter Center specifically designated for those who are suffering from substance abuse disorders.
This Office will coordinate with Veterans’ groups and organizations who assist those who have been incarcerated who need transitional housing.
The Office of Transitional Housing will be responsible for administering a Municipal ID program.
Office of Anti-Corruption
City Hall and some of the mayor’s division directors unethically and allegedly illegally, make deals with private developers and contractors while no one questions them. Middle management city employees must take orders or lose their jobs. This is not to mention the many years that developers and others connive to get around laws and rules. In return for campaign contributions and under the table pay-offs, elected and unelected city officials pander to these large contributors and well connected politically powerful city lobbyists.
City Hall overflows ripe with corruption and unethical business transactions. My own Ohio Ethics charges against the Public Service Director are ongoing. Ginther’s involvement alone with the Columbus Public Schools data scrubbing scandal, Redflex, Centerplate, the Crew Stadium deal, and the State Route 315 Ohio Health ramp are well documented. There is the Little Turtle Road Improvement project, and former Mayor Michael Coleman's house sale to a Chinese businesswoman. Those are just the ones that have been exposed most often. The City of Columbus completely refuses to regulate itself.
The FBI called the Ohio Statehouse the most corrupt in the country. They need to focus on Columbus City Hall that is only two blocks away. I will replace the current Ethics and Campaign Finance Office with a much needed Office of Anti-Corruption. We need to stop our city government's unethical practices and the lack of transparency, accountability, and an anti-democratic city government that is unmatched by any major city in America. My Office of Anti-Corruption will:
Dissolve the city’s existing Ethics Office. It is non-functional in enforcing the city’s Ethics and Conduct Policy.
Replace the Chief Ethics Officer and Campaign Finance Office with a non-partisan Inspector General who will investigate alleged unethical and corrupt behaviors of city employees and city elected officials.
Establish a strictly confidential whistle blower hotline and discipline city employees and elected officials who are privy to unethical and corrupt activities and do not report them.
Eliminate City of Columbus campaign finance reports. These reports are an additional burden to grass root challengers and another undemocratic hurdle for them to deal with. These campaign finance reports are already required to be filed with the Franklin County BOE and easily accessible to the public for review. I will remove this unnecessary redundancy and taxpayer cost.
I will prohibit the solicitation or acceptance of campaign contributions from all vendors, developers and other persons or groups who have a financial interest in city business while such business is pending before city council.
I will prohibit all former elected city, county, state and federal officials along with former directors and administrators from serving as City of Columbus legislative lobbyists.