Council’s role should be to set the vision, strategy, and expectations to make Cincinnati a great city of all Cincinnatians. It’s no secret we have a problem with city government and we need to restore the trust. We need council members that work together on a common set of goals. The individual issues we’re passionate about aren’t any less significant, but now is the time we need to prove we can work together.
We need to step up forcefully and work together to rebuild trust in city government, restore pride in Cincinnati, and most importantly deliver results for Cincinnatians.
Here is what City Council should be doing:
We need comprehensive city plans, neighborhood plans, and citizen engagement to guide development and ensure vibrant business districts and housing options for everyone. We need to adequately fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and ensure that this Trust fund includes a path to home ownership.
Development is a good thing. It is necessary for many Cincinnati business districts that are blighted, vacant, and not providing either core services or energy to the neighborhoods. However, the city’s use of tax abatements and other economic development incentives desperately needs a comprehensive review. Many of the incentive policies were created in the 1990s or even earlier. Without review and modernization, our city is bound to be stuck in the past. Incentives should be part of the comprehensive city plan as well as neighborhood plans, and deliver clear, identifiable benefits for Cincinnatians.
Republicans in Columbus cut the State and Local Government Funds. This has negatively impacted Cincinnati and other municipalities. The city’s budget is structurally unbalanced. Cincinnati increasingly uses capital dollars to pay for basic operating expenses. The result: crumbling infrastructure, and millions of deferred maintenance for city sidewalks, steps, parks and recreation facilities. We need a comprehensive review of the city’s infrastructure needs so our government can operate more efficiently.
Healthy parks and recreation programs are essential to ensure all people have healthy and safe lives. Green spaces also improve air and water quality. Cincinnati needs to do a better job of connecting neighborhoods to green spaces and recreation centers to ensure that all people, especially children and seniors, have access to these assets. Cincinnati needs to do a better job connecting people to these critical assets. I was proud to have spearheaded a planning project in Price Hill and Westwood that connects Rapid Run Park and the Dunham Recreation Center and to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Systemic racism has had a real and significant impact on every aspect of America. In Cincinnati, red-lining, segregation, and the disproportionate allocation of city resources have impacted the African-American community. I and city council must acknowledge and prioritize in all conversations and policy decisions.