Opinion: City Council Coincidence?
Like many citizens, I believe I have a valid concern. In my opinion, Columbus City Council has made some disappointing decisions lately that have left me thinking, “why don’t I have a vote on who these people are that are supposed to be representing me?” The appointment process is frustrating for active citizens alike, especially since council members appear unresponsive to the people. This is especially true when it comes to unwanted re-development and doling out tax abatements to seemingly well-connected developers.
Last week’s council meeting and the appointment of Rob Dorans led me down another path that I could not ignore. Is our Council typecasting these appointments based on race and/or gender?
Look at the history. According to the “Yes We Can” website — the local ultra-liberal movement within the Democratic Party — 30 of the past 37 City Council seats have been vacated and filled with an interim appointment. A challenger has not ousted an appointed incumbent in 21 years, and a Republican has not served on city council since Jennette Bradley left in 2003. I can agree with “Yes We Can” on this point. The appointment process is more than discouraging to this resident, and when you take a closer look, it is appalling. If this continually happened in any private corporation, lawsuits would be filed.
In 2019 alone, it appears that of the 15 candidates selected as “finalists,” council decided on two appointees who fit the exact mold of race, gender and ideology. There were multiple candidates in that group of 15 who could better represent the people in my opinion. Yet council chose what it felt was the “safe” candidate in both cases. Rob Dorans will replace Michael Stinziano (white male for white male), and Shayla Favor replaced Jaiza Page (black female assistant city attorney for black female assistant city attorney).
Going back to 2017-2018, Zach Klein vacated in the middle of his term to become City Attorney after the November 2017 election. The process to replace him with Emmanuel Remy seemed very closed door to the citizens of Columbus. Especially since the #1 replacement candidate should have been Jasmine Ayres, who had placed 4th in the November general popular vote of the City Council election of 2017. Instead, Council appointed again, same race, sex and ideology.
But the history of doing this is not recent, it dates back almost 20 years now. With each seat and interim appointment of council going to as similar of a candidate as possible. Even looking back to when the last Republican Jennette Bradley left, she was replaced with attorney Patsy Thomas. Similar profiles, with the only difference being the (R) and (D)’s next to their names. Of course, that was the last political party switch. This resulted in a 100% Democratic Columbus City Council. Today, City Council remains composed of only Democrats.
It seems that many Columbus residents are unconcerned about the practices of Council appointments. Is that because they are not paying attention to the vast impact City politics play on their everyday lives? I know when I became involved in my community, I had no idea who was on City Council, what they were doing and what they chose to ignore. Other than Mitchell Brown and Pricilla Tyson who have dedicated their lives to our city, the rest of city council seems focused on larger political agendas, and not the citizens of Columbus. President Hardin will likely run for Mayor after Ginther, Elizabeth Brown is primed for national politics with her father’s Presidential run in 2020, and it is likely that Shayla Favor uses this seat to become a Judge.
Instead of council taking the opportunity to work with a Latino representative like Lourdes Barroso De Padilla, a hands-on community activist like Michelle Brown, or God forbid, a Republican, they just continue the machine. The machine that furthers their political agenda, lines their pockets, and completely disregards the needs, wants, and ideals of our citizens. History is repeating itself over and over, leaving vast amounts of our population unrepresented in City Hall. It is time to stop the appointments.
Credit: All photos either taken by Columbus Underground, or from Columbus City Council’s website.