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  • Writer's pictureJoe Motil

Motil questions Ginther's support for neighborhoods; Ginther cites millions invested


Article by Bill Bush, Columbus Dispatch. Photo by Courtney Hergesheimer, The Columbus Dispatch

From The Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 27, 2023 and Oct. 30, 2023


To make clear his stance that improving the city's neighborshoods is his top priority, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has frequently said, "Our top three priorities are neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods."


But his only ballot challenger in the Nov. 7 mayoral election, Joe Motil, convened a press conference Thursday morning in a litter-strewn parking lot on the corner of Cleveland and 13th avenues in Linden to question Ginther's commitment to that neighborhood and recent Ginther campaign ads and mailers.


Motil said he picked the location to highlight the tall weeds, missing street lights and tree grates, and apparent code violations such as downed fences that line the city-owned sidewalks and right-of ways.


"There are also weeds growing between the curbs and the sidewalks that are up to two-feet high," Motil said, pointing to a roughly two-mile stretch of Cleveland Avenue between 13th Avenue and Weber Road.


"It's a deplorable situation all the way through here," Motil said. "And this is just one more neighborhood in Columbus that they're always talking about that they're doing things in Linden, but I don't see it.


"That's why I'm holding (the press conference) here. Because people need to see that during an election year when incumbent candidates like Mayor Ginther start saying they're all about the people and neighborhoods, this is a perfect example of how untrue that is. It's just more campaign rhetoric."


Several ornamental streetlights along the stretch of Cleveland Avenue appear to be missing, and are marked by orange plastic cones where the lamp pedestals used to stand. The lamps sit inches from the curb along the busy four-lane road, and appear to have been possibly struck by vehicles or otherwise vandalized.


Motil used the backdrop to give a lengthy speech attacking the mayor's policies — including 100% tax abatements for new, high-income housing, which Motil opposes. His general theme was that Ginther policies are designed to help wealthy donors, and ultimately to advance the status of city politicians themselves.


Revitalizing Linden has been a Ginther priority for at least the last seven years, including a new Community Center, street reconstruction projects, and supporting targeted third-party private investment.


Ginther's campaign spokesman, Cameron Keir, did not specifically address what Motil said about the stretch of Cleveland Avenue in Linden in his emailed response, but noted that the mayor regularly invests in neighborhoods throughout the city.


On Thursday night, Keir noted that the city would celebrate "the latest in a long string of improvements to Sullivant Avenue that includes $10 million in infrastructure improvements along with a dedicated code enforcement officer that has addressed 2,000 concerns in the area since 2019." Keir said.


The Sullivant Avenue improvements followed a Dispatch investigation, "Suffering on Sullivant."


Ginther has also battled illegal dumping while putting "Columbus on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050 by spearheading new refuse removal and additional recycling services citywide," Keir said in a prepared statement. "We encourage voters to look at all these facts and avoid false information as they head to the polls between today and Nov. 7th.”

Given another chance Friday by The Dispatch to specifically address the issues Motil raised about conditions along the stretch of Cleveland Avenue in Linden, Keir replied: "Thanks for reaching back out. We’re going to let our statement from Thursday stand as is."

Motil also used the Thursday event to respond to Ginther political ads on TV painting Motil as soft on crime for having opposed a gun buyback and a heavy police presence in the Short North last May following high-profile weekend shootings.


"Mayor Andy Ginther has worked tirelessly to reduce crime," the spot's narrator says. "But when he added police patrols after a spike in violence, Joe Motil called it 'excessive.'" While the city gun-buyback program last month collected over 300 firearms in return for grocery gift cards, "Joe Motil called it a waste of resources," the ad says.


Motil maintains that the gun buyback was a public relations stunt that has almost no effect on gun crime. The heavy police presence focused on the Short North after two high-profile weekend shootings in May was over the top, came at the expense of other neighborhoods and was done to avoid bad publicity with the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, he said.


wbush@gannett.com

@ReporterBush















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