City Council Election 2013: Priscilla Tyson
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 Priscilla Tyson:
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 deserves a quality education regardless of where they live, or how much money their parents make, and we all have a responsibility – as residents, community leaders, and elected officials – to ensure that basic right. That’s what we’ve done with the Mayor’s Education Commission. Working together with the entire community, we’ve developed common-sense reforms to bring real change and accountability to our schools. Given the depth of the challenges, we must have a community-wide focus, independent oversight, and bold reforms that are accountable to the families we serve. Issues 50 & 51 are critical to implement the Columbus Education Plan, and as a Councilmember and member of the Columbus Education Commission, my goal is to work to ensure the plan is put into action so that we might secure a better future for the children of Columbus.
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 promote job creation and economic development for all of Columbus by using every tool available to retain and grow businesses that call Columbus home, and to attract new employers that will put Columbus residents to work. That means investing in an educated workforce that is prepared for the jobs of tomorrow and who can continue to improve our local economy.
It also means we must continue to support efforts that help small businesses expand and grow through performance based incentives and access to capital, and continue to invest in economic development programs that provide entrepreneurial development assistance and business consulting services specifically targeted to small businesses. By continuing to invest in these types of programs, we can continue to increase the capacity of small businesses, level the playing field and ensure that all businesses are prepared to compete and succeed.
Finally, by investing in core city services like police and fire, streets and sidewalks, recreation facilities, and by ensuring access to health and human services and high-performing neighborhood schools, we are investing in the future of Columbus and creating an environment where businesses will thrive and continue to drive the Columbus economy.
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: What I have seen through my work and travels with the National League of Cities is that municipalities across the country are approaching economic development with creativity and ingenuity. Grand Rapids is certainly an innovator in this area. The public and private sectors should work together to support small businesses, and the City of Columbus needs to continue to make it easier for small businesses to succeed in our community. Council has taken a leading role in supporting small businesses by inviting them to participate in an ongoing small business roundtable that is helping us to streamline city government and make Columbus even more business friendly. To continue our momentum, we should look to the successes we see in other communities and encourage the private sector to follow our lead and invest in the best and brightest small businesses.
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: Public safety is the number one priority for this City Council. As Finance Committee chair, I listen to safety leaders and make sure precious City resources are being allocated properly, giving police and fire forces the tools they need to keep neighborhoods safe. Recognizing that a community’s safety is impacted beyond police and fire services, City Council has helped to reorganize the Code Enforcement Division to put these officers in our neighborhoods on evenings and weekends so they can maximize their impact on our community. The Applications for Purpose, Pride and Success (APPS) program in the Recreation and Parks Department is a violence intervention program designed to prevent problems from occurring. And our Division of Police is also participating in Somali and Hispanic cultural awareness and Spanish language classes.
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: Whatever the future holds for rail based travel in Columbus, the plan will have to be integrated into a broader approach that moves people not just in and out of Downtown or around the City but around the region as well. This is something that Columbus cannot accomplish alone, but given our size and location and relationship with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, I do want to make sure that we are part of a conversation that positively impacts people’s lives and economic development in the area.
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: As chair of Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, I am a proud supporter of the Affordable Care Act. The law is already delivering for Central Ohioans: lifetime coverage limits and denials for pre-existing conditions are history; young adults are able to stay longer on their parents’ plans; and the new health insurance exchanges offer those who need coverage a way to find plans that meet their needs, with many applicants eligible for financial assistance. Add to all of this the law’s emphasis on preventive care, and the Affordable Care Act is a good deal for the residents of Columbus.
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 support marriage equality and I understand that the LGBT community is engaged in a conversation about when and how to proceed on this issue. I have been proud of Council’s efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and fairness in Columbus, and we will continue to do everything we can to make Columbus a great and welcoming place for all people to live, work, and raise their families.
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: I’ve lived in Columbus all of my life, and I continue to be amazed and inspired by this great community. In Columbus, we believe in collaboration and partnership, and as a result, we have become one of the best places in the country to live, work, and raise a family. Going forward, I am excited to continue our positive momentum and make sure that we remain the best managed city in the country, with safe neighborhoods, a vibrant arts community, and a strong economy that provides a high quality of life for our residents.
For more information, visit www.tysonforcouncil.com.