Andrew J Ginther Sworn in as 53rd Mayor of Columbus
The Columbus community, and local and state officials, gathered in Lincoln Theatre Wednesday for the swearing-in of Andrew J. Ginther as the city’s 53rd mayor.
The resonating phrase of the night seemed to be “purposeful, intentional,” as Ginther gave his address, and also as U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty spoke of mayors past, the foundation they built, and how theirs and Mayor Ginther’s effort and success will culminate into an ultimately brighter future.
“So I say to you, Mr. Mayor Andy Ginther,” Beatty said. “You could have just sat back and taken the ride, but you decided to stand on that foundation, stand on their shoulders, and look to the future.”
Along with Beatty, former mayors Greg Lashutka and Michael B. Coleman, and State Representative Kevin Boyce sang Ginther’s praises, and musical group, the Harmony Project, literally sang his praises, all excited for the new mayor’s plans for Columbus’ struggling neighborhoods.
The immediate focus is on the Linden and Hilltop areas, which Columbus Department of Development Director Steve Schoeny said in a phone interview require a total reinvigoration. A good community, to him, is one that is active, connected and dense.
Right now Linden and Hilltop have good connectivity, “but to make those neighborhoods active and dense we need to do a better job of attracting people to those areas,” he said.
“We’re looking to bring in other partners into the neighborhood to help us invest,” Schoeny said. “When you look at the progress we’re making on the near East side and on the South side, that’s about engaging other partners and other anchors in the community to help reinvest in those areas.”
Nothing has been solidified yet, but Schoeny said plans will be in the works within the next three to six months.
To give residents a voice in the reshaping of their communities, Ginther appointed Steve Francis as the first Chief of Diversity the city has ever had.
Francis is a board member for the Central Ohio Diversity Consortium, which helps organizations either start or enhance existing diversity and inclusion initiatives. He is currently manager of diversity relations for the Administration Division at Honda of America.
“What’s good for all organizations within central Ohio is also good for the city of Columbus,” he said. “We already have a richly diverse community. We just need to build on what we already have, so that’s going to be part of my job — figuring out where we can build on our successes and where we need to implement infrastructure and programming where there is none currently.”
￼Ginther also spoke of the need to address Ohio’s and the city’s infant mortality rate. In 2013, Ohio saw seven infant deaths per 1,000 live births, 23 percent higher than the national average.
Ginther grew up with 47 foster brothers and sisters over the years.
“They taught me that every child is a child of god,” Ginther said. “And deserves a shot at success, regardless of their circumstances, where they came from, or who there parents were.”
Ginther’s inauguration will be January 29 at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.