City Council Election 2013: Eileen Paley
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 Eileen Paley:
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: Ensuring every child in Columbus receives a quality education is the responsibility of our entire community, and each of us has a role to play to make certain that the necessary reforms are put into place to allow our children to reach their full potential. The Columbus Education Commission issued a report that outlines the many challenges and opportunities facing Columbus school children, and offered detailed recommendations to bring about the changes we need to secure their future. Thankfully, we’ve all stepped up, labor leaders and business executives, educators and parents, elected officials and interim administrators. Together, we are united behind bold reforms that can bring quality education to all students.
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: We must continue to work to strengthen our neighborhoods and create a safe environment for families to thrive and for our children to learn and grow. In doing so, we enhance our overall quality of life that attracts new residents and the businesses which create well-paying jobs. As chair of the Public Service & Transportation and Utilities Committees, I work to make sure that our capital budget is aligned with community priorities and that we are investing in City infrastructure, like roads, sidewalks, bikeways, and streetscapes that are the backbone of our neighborhoods and essential to public safety, job creation and economic development.
We must also work to advance transportation policy that balances the short-term needs of our neighborhoods, with the long-term goals of the City and the region, and position the City to accept, implement and promote new mobility options. And, whether developing our infrastructure, improving City services or implementing new policies to address the ever changing needs of our community, we must continue to look for opportunities to collaborate and to build cooperative partnerships with businesses and residents to move our City forward.
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: We need to do everything we can to support small businesses, including working with the private sector to maximize our community’s investment in entrepreneurial enterprises. It should be as easy as possible to establish a new small business in Columbus. We have certainly made a great deal of progress, because we have been listening to what small business owners have been telling us. For instance, Council passed comprehensive reform of the city’s contracting process to make it more efficient, accessible, and transparent. We’ve also reached out to minority-, female-, and veteran-owned businesses to make sure that they are ready to bid when opportunities arise. We certainly need to embrace innovation and take a good look at what other communities around the country are doing.
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: One of the most important aspects of crime fighting is encouraging an active and alert community. Neighbors who are watching out for each other help extend the reach of an officer on the beat. Through community based initiatives like National Night Out and the Neighborhood Safety Academy, we engage residents on a street -by- street basis, helping them fight crime in their community.
City Council has also expanded the very popular and successful Community Crime Patrol into new neighborhoods to help put more ‘eyes and ears’ on the beat. Recognizing that blight impacts public safety, City Council is also working closely with the City Attorney’s office to support the Vacant and Abandoned Properties (VAP) program to fight blighted properties in the City.
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: The great thing about Columbus is we have shed the ‘car is king’ mentality that dominated for decades. As Public Service and Transportation Committee chair, I am helping the City invest in the infrastructure needed to promote every kind of transportation that promotes active, healthy communities. Since 2008, the City has installed more than 18 miles of bike lane pavement markings and constructed 356 bike racks, 18 bike shelters and one bike corral to encourage cycling in Columbus.
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: I’ve always believed that all people deserve to get the healthcare that they need. The Affordable Care Act puts health insurance within the reach – and the budgets – of millions of Americans who have done without coverage for too long. The law also benefits people who have poor or inadequate coverage by helping them find and sign up for better plans. I think we all need to remember that while the law has been debated for years, it is in the very early stages of implementation. Many of the ACA’s benefits were immediate, but in the coming months and years we will have a fuller picture of the positive impact the law is making on the lives of Columbus residents.
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: As a founding member of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio, I am a longtime supporter of the LGBT community. I strongly believe that loving couples should have the freedom to marry. The community will decide how to achieve equality in Ohio; I will continue to be a proud ally, speaking out at every opportunity for my friends in the LGBT 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: Columbus is experiencing a tremendous period of growth that is a result of years of careful planning, sound investments and responsible leadership. We have built a solid foundation and developed the infrastructure necessary to support future growth and position Columbus for success. Because of this, I am most excited by our unlimited potential as a city, and the unprecedented opportunity to explore innovative approaches to governing that will strengthen neighborhoods, improve public safety and continue to grow the local economy. I believe that the best part of Columbus is US. I look forward to working together to move our city forward.
For more information, visit www.paleyforcolumbus.com.