Heidi Samuel for Columbus Neighborhoods
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Tyson, Samuel in head-to-head race for council
Thursday, October 25, 2007
ThisWeek Staff Writer


ThisWeek Newspaper
Heidi Samuel
Priscilla Tyson

Priscilla Tyson and Heidi Samuel will face off Nov. 6 in Columbus City Council's only head-to-head race.

Tyson took over the council seat in January after Councilwoman Mary Jo Hudson resigned. The election in November will determine who will fill the two remaining years of the term. The winner will have to defend the seat again in 2009.

Tyson, 52, is a lifelong Columbus resident. She has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Franklin University. Tyson is president of StarArts Limited.

Tyson said she believes the leadership roles she's had in the community have prepared her to serve on council.

"I have the knowledge, experience and understanding of what it takes to make our community better," she said. "I believe my 29 years of experience in the nonprofit and business arena and my compassion for people has prepared me to lead and assist with establishing sound fiscal policy and managing the affairs of this city."

Samuel, 36, moved to Columbus in 1990 to attend The Ohio State University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in history. She is now a full-time mom.

Samuel, former president of the Eastmoor Civic Association, said she's running "to bring stronger neighborhood-issues representation to Columbus City Council."

The candidates responded to the following questions from ThisWeek:

What can be done to reduce crime within the city?
Samuel: We must start with city council acknowledging the growing crime problem in our city; leadership cannot solve or cost effectively apply resources to a problem it denies having. Statements like, "We are among the safest big cities" ignore the real and widening range of crime challenges impacting our neighborhoods. To reduce crime, we need to make tough fiscal decisions to replace the city's shortage of 403 officers and its aging fleet of vehicles. A more visible and responsive presence of officers in neighborhoods and along business corridors lays the groundwork for healthy communities; conversely, a lack of proactive policing invites crime.

Tyson: I hope that what I am already doing to reduce crime -- adding safety cameras to our recreation centers, funding bike path patrols, working to improve programs for young people, funding new police vehicles and equipment -- is just the start. Our housing programs must avoid concentration of poverty in one place and our social services must reach out to prevent drug abuse before it leads to criminal behavior. Our code enforcement and refuse programs must clean up neighborhoods, which has been shown to reduce crime. Most importantly, our development programs must bring jobs back to the central city where they are most needed.

What role should council play in revitalizing city center?
Samuel: I frequently say the role of city leadership is to create and manage the conditions conducive to economic development, not play the role of a developer. No development, City Center or otherwise, will sustain itself long term if the area is not safe, if the area is not attractive and the infrastructure maintained, if there is not a proximate population of consumers to sustain it. I believe it's now up to the city to return focus on shoring up the challenges of downtown, address safety issues and allow market forces and private dollars to drive its future redevelopment.

Tyson: Of course, city incentives such as TIFs, Clean Ohio grants, capital projects and any possible zoning changes must be made readily available by council. First, however, we must be patient enough to insist on getting the right development that creates a great mixed-use attraction in the core of downtown. Second, we must realize that our downtown has too many surface lots, institutional uses that close after 5 p.m. and little retail continuity that attracts people both day and night. These problems must be overcome in the planning, design and ultimate uses of City Center. Council must insist on these principles.



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