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Voter Guide for the 2017 Columbus Primary Election

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Voter Guide for the 2017 Columbus Primary ElectionPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Columbus City Councilmembers Priscilla Tyson, Shannon Hardin and Mitchell Brown are up for re-election this year. Officially endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party, they’re going against six other candidates, four Republicans and two Democrats, in the primary election taking place on Tuesday, May 2.

From the Franklin County Republican Party are Kieran Cartharn, Josh Jaffe, and Sarah Ries. Ries and Jaffe both work for the party as political director and executive director respectively. Ries has also worked closely with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, first as a staffer at Mike DeWine for Ohio, then as a project assistant to the COO and a grant specialist at the Attorney General’s office. The third Republican, 19-year-old Kieran Cartharn, is the youngest to run for Columbus City Council. An active member of the Church of God in Christ, Cartharn is a volunteer in the Linden area, where he grew up. He’s cited neighborhood problems, like crime, drug addiction and homelessness as his main campaign issues.

Whitney Smith, though not officially endorsed by the party, is also a Republican running for council. A small business owner and activist, Smith promoted Issue 1 last year. The issue called for increased neighborhood representation on city council. Her main issues are police brutality, government transparency, and infant mortality.

Two “rogue” Democrats are also running for city council. Endorsed by local activist group Yes We Can are candidates Will Petrik and Jasmine Ayres. Petrik, current Grants Associate at Local Matters and Outreach Director for the Juvenile Justice Coalition, has, along with Ayres, embraced a progressive approach to Democratic values. They each advocate for income equality, community-centric policing, and getting big money out of politics. Ayres, having received a Master of Public Affairs, Education Policy Analysis, also specifies education as a passion. Petrik has highlighted renewable energy as an important issue for him.

Each candidate runs in hopes of ousting Tyson, Hardin and Brown. President Pro Tem Tyson, a Columbus City Councilmember since January 2007, has focused on programs to decrease poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. She cites a “strong economic plan,” strong schools and the streamlining of city departments as her main issues.

Hardin has been a councilmember since October 2014. He worked for former Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s office in several capacities, including External Affairs Manager, LGBTQ Liaison and Religious Advisory Commissioner. During his time on council he’s prioritized making Columbus a city that’s safer and offers more opportunities for the LGBTQ and black communities.

Brown, a councilmember since January of last year, has a long history in the area of public safety. Prior to being unanimously appointed to city council, Brown was Columbus’ Director of Public Safety for 14 years. He’s also been involved in public safety for Cleveland and the state as well. He’s listed community engagement and utilization of technology for a better-working city as his councilmember priorities.

Columbus residents will need to choose three of the nine running to sit on council for the primary on May 2. They’ll also select from eight Columbus School Board candidates to fill three spots that are up for grabs. Incumbents Ramona Reyes, Dominic Paretti and Michael D. Cole face challengers Seth Golding and Zach Amos, from the Franklin County Republican Party, and Abby Vaile, Amy Harkins and Erin Upchurch, from Yes We Can.

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