I. Fiscal Responsibility & Transparency
Cincinnati’s cost of living has consistently been rising above the national average for the better part of five years. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that our elected and appointed officials continue to invest in wasteful spending that does little to benefit the majority of our city’s residents.
As a result, property taxes in some areas have increased by nearly 50% in the past couple of years; forcing some life-long residents to move further away from our city’s core to escape the crushing grasp of failing politicians who continue to push the burden of their failures upon taxpayers.
Our city has long been a place where many have decided to call “home” due to its affordability, but now I fear that our city will no longer be affordable for many in outlying neighborhoods. What’s more important to ask, though, is this: What are we getting for what we contribute in higher tax rates? None of the major issues that were plaguing us four years ago have gotten better. Infrastructure is failing, roadways are caving, the police & fire response times are as low as ever, and we still have one of the worst childhood poverty rates in the country among major cities. Yet City Council has done little to address these issues. It has to stop.
To fight the rising cost of living, I propose a five-year property tax freeze for residents of our city. My hopes are that this will help to counterbalance the rising cost of living and keep Cincinnati affordable so that people do not leave and others continue to be attracted to our city because of its affordability. I will not sit idly by and see my hard working neighbors suffer through economic hardships due to the failures of our city officials. It’s time for innovative action in our city.
Furthermore, we must continue to push for the most innovative and transparent expenditure systems possible. No one should have to wonder where their money is going and who made the decision to allocate funds. This way, we can better hold our officials accountable and make Cincinnati the model for municipal transparency. Our officials must remember that they are employed by us, the citizens and taxpayers. I want to be held accountable for my actions and anyone who doesn’t shouldn’t be holding public office.
II. Community Health
If any candidate does not put life and health for others near the top of their list, you have to question their moral fortitude. Regardless of whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between, we have to make sure that our neighbors are not suffering. I will always stand by this sentiment.
Can we truly label ourselves as “progressive” when we spend more time focusing on a streetcar that only services two of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods while children are going without adequate nutrition in food deserts a couple of streets away from the line? No, we can’t. We face one of the worst childhood poverty rates in the nation. There’s no excuse for our city’s administration’s failure to address child poverty with more resolve. The current administration has cut funding for human services time and time again while expending energy and resources on parking garages, failed infrastructure projects, and other popular, but utterly useless, luxuries.
We need to stand up for those in our city whom have no voice on election day: The children. I’m tired of politicians only claiming to care when they need votes, but never following suit with appropriate action. When elected, I will not stand for this, and the health of Cincinnati’s citizens will always come first.
Focusing on our citizens’ health goes beyond making sure our children are fed. We must address the opiate epidemic that plagues our city’s neighborhoods. Last year, we set a record for the number of overdoses in a single weekend. I never want to see that headline again. We must do everything we can to stem off the consistent rise of addiction through more intensive rehabilitation and prevention programs, remove the stigma of addiction, and promote positive treatment that gives hope to those addicted rather than trap them in an endless cycle of incarceration.
After losing my brother to a heroin overdose in 2011, this issue hits close to home. I know the pain that many in our city are experiencing and I want you to know that I’m here with you. Our struggling neighbors need support to overcome addiction and I will always advocate for them. Some of my family members are still battling addiction. I want the city to know that if you ever need to talk, I’m always here. We’ll work through these troubled times together.
To combat the opiate addiction crisis in Cincinnati, I propose that we create more intensive rehabilitation centers; leaving jail time off the table for those battling addiction so that they may have hope and families are not torn apart. We must also ensure that needle exchange programs are funded to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis as well as ensuring that medical marijuana is easily accessible to the ill so that they may reduce their risk of opiate addiction.
III. Economic Development
I believe that economic development needs to come with a reasonable trajectory that won’t hurt citizens nor local businesses.
Our city has seen incredible economic development for the better part of the last decade. I’m always impressed with what we can do when we set our minds to it, but we cannot be foolish in failing to recognize the limitations of scaling and the side-effects of unchecked development.
Part of the reason why so many enjoy living in our metropolitan area is the fact that the cost of living has always been affordable. Studies are now showing that our overall cost of living is accelerating faster than the national average, which puts us at risk of an exodus from our urban core; leaving recent developments unfilled and a lack of affordable housing for many who have lived in Cincinnati for the majority of their lives. This hurts the small businesses that we all love and weakens the bonds of our neighborhoods.
We need to invest in infrastructure projects that benefit everyone in our city, and not just a couple of neighborhoods. I believe that we need to take a realistic, modest approach to development that doesn’t leave anyone left out while sustaining an affordable cost of living and increasing our overall quality of life.
To bolster economic development, I also propose a complete overhaul and update of our tourism and travel industry. We must market ourselves with what we have: A rich heritage in brewing. I want us to push the limits of what we can do and become a city that thrives on visitors looking forward to our biergartens and breweries, and I will fight tirelessly to make this a reality once elected.
IV. Accountable and Accessible Government
I believe in a government that puts the power back into the hands of the people by both informing and empowering them, and I will always fight for that.
The more concealed the government and both elected and appointed officials are, the less power average citizens have. I want to empower my constituents to be informed of both the proceedings of council and the initiatives that it puts forward. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent and if it’s being spent efficiently so that they may better understand how to hold council members accountable.
On top of this, I want to make sure that council meetings are accessible to all of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods. When there are 52 weeks in every year and 52 neighborhoods in Cincinnati, we should expect our elected officials to plan their meetings at times and locations which are accessible to all people. Being a public servant means being accessible, and being accessible means taking up the task of being engaged. I can assure you that I will always be both accessible and ready to talk with anyone. We don’t always have to agree, but we do have to be willing to learn and share our collective visions for our unique neighborhoods that make up Cincinnati.
V. Steadfast Values
The 2016 general election showed is just how serious the rift is in our country. We’re more divided than ever in this current political climate, but I refuse to turn my back on neighbors simply for a difference in political ideology. I promise to always save a space at the table for every voice in our city. I will always push for compromise and inclusion for everyone.
I believe in a system of meritocratic collectivism where those who work hard for the betterment of our culture as a whole get rewarded and we stay away from selfishness. It takes a community to raise our children and increase our quality of life and I will never stop pushing for better education and enlightenment for our communities.
At the end of the day, sometimes the best plan is to hold true to your values, and I very much that my beliefs are aligned with the heartbeat of our city. We’re hardworking. Our Midwestern city is built by blue-collar and working class citizens. We’re generous. 88% of adults in our city donated time or money to charity in 2016. Most importantly, though, we’re Cincinnatians. We’re from a city where pigs fly, chili is made with chocolate, and beer is bountiful. Sure, we might do things a little differently around here, but we like it that way.
Let’s be passionate. Let’s fight for progress for ALL of our neighborhoods. Let’s pave the way for the best possible future for Cincinnati.