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City Council Election 2013: A. Troy Miller

Walker Evans Walker Evans City Council Election 2013: A. Troy Miller
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On November 5th, Columbus residents will be given the choice to fill three seats at Columbus City Council. Three democratic incumbents are being challenged by three republican and independent candidates.

To help our readers make the most informed decisions, we’re publishing the answers to a Q&A series from each of the participating candidates. Below is our full interview with A. Troy Miller:

Q: First things first — The Columbus City Schools Levy is the biggest local issue on the ballot this year. Regardless of whether or not the levy passes, what would you say is the biggest problem with the Columbus school system today, and how best can it be addressed and corrected?

A: Every child in Columbus should receive a quality education, and we must work to bring about reforms that will ensure high performing schools in every neighborhood. On Election Day, Columbus residents will vote on the future of our schools and, and as a result, the future success of our city. Thanks to the hard work of a diverse commission engaged with our whole community, we have a package of reforms that I encourage voters to support. These measures are about funding the right priorities, supporting responsible school administration, and providing independent oversight at a time of great challenge and opportunity. I’m proud to support this historic opportunity for our children.

Q: The City of Columbus has fared better than many other regional cities during the economic recession and job growth reports this year have shown that the city has been outpacing much of the rest of the state/nation. What else needs to be done to further local job growth initiatives to continue to strengthen and diversify the local economy?

A: It is critical that we continue to promote small businesses that help drive our economy and create jobs, while better utilizing technology to make government more efficient, and improve the City services that strengthen our neighborhoods. Where promoting small businesses are concerned, we need to continue to work with community partners like the Economic and Community Development Institute and the Community Capital Development Corporation to ensure access to business mentoring programs and the capital needed to help small businesses succeed.

As the owner of an information technology business, I also know how critical it is for companies to utilize technology to save money and increase efficiency. As a City, we are investing in fiber networks to promote connectivity of City information and services and as an economic development tool to attract and retain companies that are providing good, high paying jobs for our residents. We are also working to better utilize technology to make it easier for employers to do business in Columbus, to navigate City government, and to connect with the right services. And, when we make government work smarter through new technology, we can improve customer service, save tax payer dollars and can reinvest the savings in the neighborhoods that make Columbus great.

Q: I recently returned from the CEOs for Cities Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and discovered that this Dayton-sized city has multiple incubator facilities (retail incubator, medical incubator, idea incubator, design/innovation incubator, etc) located within blocks of each other Downtown, and developed largely with private-sector funding. How can Columbus better connect corporate partners with entrepreneurial efforts to better boost small business creation and development?

A: Small business incubators are an important tool in our effort to attract development and jobs to Columbus. In recognition of the role incubators can play in our community, I included an amendment to the city’s operating budget to establish four new small business incubators in Columbus. These include the MindMarket incubator, a partnership with the Columbus College of Art and Design; the Workplace Incubator Network (WIN) Program, a collaboration with the Economic & Community Development Institute; a downtown technology accelerator incubator; and the All Things Linden retail incubator that is launching in Linden. We recognize the role that incubators can play, and I would be in favor of partnering with some of our larger private firms to invest in the ideas and products that will drive our growth and prosperity in the years to come. It is certainly an important conversation.

Q: What do you feel are the most pressing crime/safety issues in Columbus in 2013, what areas of Columbus need the most police attention, and what other solutions should be implemented for combating these problems?

A: More than 70% of our City budget goes to funding Public Safety. As with all City departments I come in contact with, I look for innovative ways to leverage technology and infrastructure to aid in the delivery of City services. I have made the acquisition of fiber a top priority. I often refer to fiber as a fourth utility because along with water, electric and sanitary sewer systems, it can help bolster our economic development effort. It can also help our safety forces by transmitting real time information and images to officers and substations, helping to reallocate resources to where they are needed most. Neighborhood safety cameras are helping to prosecute those who commit crimes in our neighborhoods.

Q: Columbus has seen the launch of multiple new transportation modes in 2013. The CoGo Bike Share service seems to be well received, COTA bus ridership is up, and not-yet-launched services including Car2Go and Uber have received early fanfare. Are these options good enough for a city rapidly growing residentially denser in the urban core, or is Columbus ready to begin planning rail-based transit in the near future?

A: I am encouraged by the new businesses willing to enter the Columbus market place and the public’s enthusiasm for embracing these new ideas. It shows that we have a community that is hungry for mobility options. I look forward to engaging those who want to build upon our current successes and make Columbus the most transportation friendly community possible.

Q: While the full impact of Obamacare is still yet to be seen upon the national rollout of key components in 2014, do you think that the policies will have a net positive or negative impact locally on the health and well-being of Columbus residents?

A: The Affordable Care Act will have a positive impact locally because it will ensure that more people have health insurance. As a small business owner, I have long been interested in how the law affects small businesses. The ACA’s tax credits and small business exchanges will make it easier for these firms to offer health coverage, which means that more people will be insured. The law also makes it easier for entrepreneurs to start small businesses, because they will be able to afford healthcare coverage. For too long, healthcare costs have been a disincentive to American entrepreneurship, and under the Affordable Care Act, that will begin to change.

Q: The Freedom to Marry campaign has made strides in 2013 toward a Nov 2014 Ohio ballot issue, which is likely to be a highly prominent issue next year. Do you support the Freedom to Marry campaign in Ohio, and do you feel it would have a positive or negative impact on Columbus?

A: I have long supported City policies that protect the rights of individuals and which ensure equal access and opportunity under the law. Any effort that promotes equality, and creates an open and inclusive environment can only have a positive impact on our community.

Q: Last but not least — What is the most positive aspect of life in Columbus Ohio right now, and what are you most excited about or inspired by for the near future?

A: The most positive aspect of life in Columbus is our entrepreneurial spirit. I am excited about the partnerships City Council is creating with the business community to encourage residents to foster economic development opportunities in the City. Through innovative competitions like KickStart that has already awarded small business owners retail space in downtown, I am helping people to realize their dreams and revitalizing the urban core.

For more information, visit www.millerforcolumbus.com.

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