My training as a former prosecutor and civil servant tells me that corruption has no place on council because corruption is motivated by single mindedness and council is no place for that. I want to be on council to help this City move past the last year of internal dysfunction and disrespect. I want to bring back an appreciation for good and fair government with a single and unifying goal to better the City above all else.
We have a real opportunity to close the gap between the rate of homeownership in Cincinnati which is about 38% versus the national rate of 67%. Home ownership is the key to good neighborhoods, schools, decreased criminal activity, opportunities to advance economically, and access to better financial opportunists to build equity. On Council, I will work to find better solutions to closing the ownership gap by leveraging state and federal loan programs and building off what some of the local institutions in the City have done or are doing. Also, at the same time we have to be better at preserving middle class home ownership in the city by not criminally prosecuting those who cannot afford to make often minor property repairs.
I was an attorney working for the City at the time of the civil unrest in 2001 following the shooting of Timothy Thomas. I am the only council candidate who was part of the monitoring team that implemented changes designed to improve police relations with the Black community under our City’s 2002 Collaborative Agreement. That Agreement was the model for police reform and was heralded as the future of police and community relations. The Collaborative was supported and endorsed by the City and the police department to foster better relations between the African American community and the Cincinnati police department. Unfortunately, over time, both the City and the Police Department have failed to live up to their respective commitments to the Agreement. And as the death of George Floyd this summer and ensuing protests have shown, there is much work to do across this country to ensure fair treatment of our Black citizens by the police. My goal as a council member would be to put the work in to foster a community where the views of BLM and police are better understood by the other and that we can continue the work to improve relationships and outcomes in Cincinnati.
Developers are betting on a bright future for Cincinnati and that needs to be supported and encouraged. Market rate developments in the downtown and OTR districts help small businesses thrive and create jobs. However, tax abatements for single family homes in some of the City’s already thriving neighborhoods don’t create the same community benefits and contribute to unnecessary neighborhood divisiveness. The City’s development efforts must do a better job of maintaining affordable housing and avoiding the displacement of those who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars a month for rent. I will try to achieve this balance by creating opportunities for developers to participate more broadly than simply depositing money into an affordable housing pool. Developers by nature are entrepreneurial and have to think outside the box when it comes to new projects in existing neighborhoods. Those same traits can be utilized to help create new affordable housing in our neighborhoods. Council’s role in development should be to act as a catalyst to provide incentives to development in a manner where all segments of the community benefit.
These are unprecedented times for small business and these shops, restaurants, barbershops, hair salons and bars are the lifeline of our neighborhoods. The City needs to work on a plan for helping small business owners to regain their standing in the community beyond the state and federal dollars available. The City also should make sure that small businesses get a shot at doing business with the private developers to whom the City has granted incentives.
The rollout of the COVID vaccine has illustrated the disparate health care access for our neighbors who are at or near the poverty level and the obstacles that create those disparities. The gap has long predated the vaccine issue. Strikingly, the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati for African Americans is one of the highest in the nation at 9.1 deaths per 1000 live births as compared to the national average of 5.6 deaths per 1000 live births. The City needs to take better advantage of and provide more support to the work of social organizations whose mission it is to close this gap, such as the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Also, the race to vaccinate has shown us that the City must do better to ensure that everybody either has access to computers which are becoming increasingly necessary to access healthcare or that other means are available to ensure that our residents have access to basic healthcare and are not left behind.
For the last six years I have worked at FirstGroup America, Inc. which is one of the largest mobility companies in North America. My experience at FirstGroup has allowed me to understand the many challenges associated with transportation for cities similar to Cincinnati and some of the innovative ways that other cities have met these challenges to improve transportation and mobility. My work experience puts me in a better position to understand why some transportation solutions may or may not work in our hometown. I understand that reliable public transportation increases the opportunity to gain meaningful employment. On Council I will work to find additional federal and/or state funds. I will help to develop more innovative ways to leverage some of the City’s current transportation relationships as well as foster new relationships so more people can get to work and access better healthcare and food resources.
At this juncture I cannot speak to what each of our 52 Neighborhoods individually need or what might be the unique hot button issues at the neighborhood level. However, I do know that universally all neighborhoods want to be free of crime and feel a sense of community where you can venture out to neighborhood restaurants or convenience stores, let your kids play in clean, accessible parks, and have access to sidewalks and roads that are free of potholes or other hazards. More than anything else, you want to know that Council is working for you. If I am elected, I will be on your side because at my core I am just a neighborhood kind of guy.