Brian Bainbridge: Republican Challenger for Columbus City Council
This November, Columbus residents will be voting to fill three city council seats. Up for re-election are incumbents Priscilla Tyson, A. Troy Miller and Eileen Paley, all Democrats. Two Republican challengers have been nominated by the Franklin County Republican Party for the election: Greg Lawson and Brian Bainbridge.
While the election is exactly seven months away, and all candidates will be interviewed and profiled closer to voting time, we thought it would be a good time to introduce the challengers and provide some background information about them personally, professionally and politically.
Below is our Q&A with Brian Bainbridge. Click here to read the Q&A with Greg Lawson.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, education and work experience?
A: I grew up in Worthington, graduated from Worthington Christian. During my teenage years, I got involved in my youth group at Grace Polaris, where I became a leader within my youth group. I ended up going to Huntington University in Indiana, where I originally was intending on becoming a minister. After 4 years of college life, studying political science and communications – I decided the ministry wasn’t my calling.
After graduating college in 1998, I quickly got sucked into the dot com craze and went into technology sales. I got my first job working as an e-business specialist for Columbus based software company, Symix Systems. After Symix Systems got sold, I then spent 3 years as a sales consultant within the telecommunications industry. In 2006, I moved my career into the technology staffing industry, where I helped companies find top technical talent and helped people find jobs.
Throughout my professional career, I always had an interest in investing in Real Estate. In 2007 I got my Real Estate license after obtaining my first investment property a few years earlier. After that, I got the real estate bug and am now pursuing my passion as a Realtor – I have a lot of fun doing it and enjoy what I do!
Q: Where in Columbus do you live, and is there anything specific about your neighborhood that makes you a good fit for Columbus City Council?
A: I live on the Columbus West Side with my fiancé, we own a home in the Westgate subdivision. A few years ago, I decided to quit standing on the sidelines and started getting involved in the neighborhood. I took the initiative and got involved in the Franklinton Board of Trade, the Lower Lights Health Center Development Board, as a board member of the Westgate Neighbors Association and in 2011 served as a commissioner for the Hilltop Area Commission. The Hilltop is a great example of a neighborhood that needs further attention. During my time here, I quickly learned the pride that people have a large amount of pride in this neighborhood – they simply want to have a voice, and to have the city actually listen to them on conditions and concerns within their neighborhood. I believe the neighborhood leaders are not given as much attention as they deserve. I envision a day when the City of Columbus gives equal credence to the commission meetings as they do to their own.
Q: Is this your first time in a political race? If so, why?
A: I pride myself in the fact that I am not a career politician. Not saying that all career politicians are bad I am friends with some of them. However, I feel that some career politicians have lost touch with what is happening in the private sector. Who is better qualified to help economic development than someone who has lived it? Who better knows about small business growth than someone that has owned one? I understand the day-to-day of what it takes to run a business. I want to take my experience as a small business owner, as a resident of Columbus West Side, a grandson of a railroad worker, to give the neighborhoods and the Columbus working class a voice.
Q: What are the biggest problems or challenges that you think Columbus is facing today?
A: Through these neighborhood involvements, I’ve noticed that there are specific neighborhoods in our city that get brushed under the rug. I am a firm believer that we need neighborhood representation. When the Columbus City Charter was ratified back in 1914 Columbus had 185,000 people, there were different ethnic groups fighting for control. In the early 20th century, the progressive movement, which was very popular nationwide – pushed to unify our nation in light of the enormous tide of immigration. To rectify the disunity within Columbus, the city charter called for 7 members serving the entire neighborhood at large. While the Columbus Charter of 1914, definitely served its purpose. Fast forward 100 years later, our city has close to 800,000, and yet we still have just 7 council members serving the city at large, 7 council members – most of who were initially appointed. This means less than 1 council representative per 100,000 people. No wonder it takes them so long to address our neighborhood concerns. To expand on this – all of the top 20 largest cities in America have some form of neighborhood representation except us – Indianapolis, San Antonio, Austin to name a few. Our nation was founded on the principle that there should be no taxation without representation, why is our city exempt from this?
Another way that our current city government is compromising our freedoms is through the passing of 2010’s Issue 12. Issue 12 gave Columbus City Council the right to hold closed door meetings for real estate, lawsuits, and security issues. They put a pretty package around the bill, our mayor endorsed it, special interest groups lobbied for its benefits. However the language within the ballot was convoluted, and it confused voters. I sincerely believe the wool had been pulled over our eyes. Personally, I feel that these closed door meetings are a violation of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, which were intended to give protection to citizens against government corruption and secrecy. Our mayor and current city council have crossed a fine line, one which violates the core foundations of our democracy. Who voted to approve 239 million dollars to bail out the Nationwide arena in 2011? Oh well, the decision must have been made during a closed door meeting.
Q: What are the biggest positive assets that Columbus has that you’d like to play as strengths moving forward?
A: Columbus has seen a tremendous amount of growth in my lifetime. I remember when I was a kid growing up in the early eighties, the Nationwide building was just completed. I remember having to drive past the Ohio penitentiary driving into Downtown from Long Street. Fast forward to today – the amount of economic growth over the last 37 years is nothing less than amazing.
Amid this economic growth, we need to remember to foster small business and continue to cultivate innovation. Columbus has seen a huge technology boom in the last 20 years, thanks to corporations like Chemical Abstracts, Tech Columbus, and Battelle. In 2011, Forbes Magazine ranked Columbus number 3 in the list of the best cities for Technology Jobs. Our city needs to continue to foster this growth, and to encourage new business growth – which is why we need to discuss further tax incentives to further encourage businesses growth.
I believe our record high 2.5% income tax rate will prove to be detrimental to economic growth and job creation in the coming years. We need to stay competitive with our neighboring cities, especially when attracting businesses to move to Columbus. While I like the many things Mayor Coleman and City Council have done with our Downtown – we need to consider a reduction of the income tax rate before small business growth is compromised and businesses start moving.
Q: Any other initial messages you’re looking to get out early in regards to your platform or the race?
A: Today the Republican Party has been given a bad name, mostly blamed for being closed minded and for catering for the wealthy and privileged. I have to admit, some of which doesn’t go unwarranted. I consider myself a new breed of Republican – one that believes in small government, but also has compassion and wants to empower the people. My heros within the Republican Party were ones that were the big-tent republicans, a time when no one was excluded. I believe in empowering people and organizations to reach out within the community, working with non-profits and churches to see that the communities’ needs are met. I believe it is each of our responsibility to help the poor, to guide our youth, and to reach out to those in need. During my time as a City Council member – I will work with the non-profits and neighborhood organizations, to make sure that these organizations have the resources they need to do the work of positive community transformation.
More information can be found about Brian at www.franklincountygop.org/Bainbridge.
To read our Q&A with Republican Candidate Greg Lawson, CLICK HERE.