Debate comes up a candidate short
Thursday, November 1, 2007
ThisWeek Staff Writer
Columbus City Council candidate Heidi Samuel focused on the
importance of neighborhoods in revitalizing the city, as what
was meant to be a debate turned into a speech.
Samuel, a candidate for a two-year, unexpired term on council,
spoke to the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce Oct. 25.
The chamber luncheon was scheduled to include a debate between
Samuel and her opponent, Priscilla Tyson, who currently holds
the seat. Chamber President Ernie Hartong said Tyson had committed
to the debate, but her campaign called before the luncheon
to cancel because of a scheduling conflict.
Samuel said she was disappointed in her opponent's absence,
as a debate would have given voters an opportunity to compare
candidates and formulate opinions.
"It's very difficult to do that if you don't have both parties present," Samuel
During her speech, Samuel, a former Eastmoor Civic Association
president, said the city must work to meet neighborhoods' basic
needs, such as safety, to ensure the city's success.
"Neighborhoods in the city are under great strain," Samuel
we address the basic needs of neighborhoods ... we stand to
lose a lot."
Samuel said neighborhood crime needs to be addressed by the
city. In her work throughout the city, Samuel said she has
heard repeatedly from Columbus police officers that there is
a shortage of more than 400 officers.
She said the department has done a good job, as statistics
reflect, on keeping rates of violent crimes and major crimes
down, but other crimes, such as graffiti and prostitution,
flourish throughout the city.
"We're falling further and further behind in the crimes that impact quality
of life," Samuel said.
Samuel said FBI statistics rate Columbus as the ninth most
dangerous big city, and, most importantly, Samuel said she
hears from residents and neighborhood leaders across the city
that they feel crime in their neighborhoods is rising.
"Statistics don't matter. What matters is how you feel in your neighborhood," Samuel
Samuel said if crime isn't dealt with, residents will take
note, and those who can afford to will move outside the city,
leaving a hollowed-out center.
"Once they go, we see businesses follow," Samuel
seen it before. We've got to make sure we leave things intact."
Samuel said her solution is to funnel more money toward safety.
In addition, Samuel said the city needs to pay more attention
to things like crumbling roadways and vacant buildings.
"Crime begets blight, and blight begets crime," Samuel
Samuel, who credits herself with being a neighborhood advocate,
said the city also needs to work better with neighborhoods
so neighborhood leaders, who devote their time to bettering
the city, understand how the city works.
By holding workshops to explain how departments work, Samuel
said the city will find ways to make things work in a more
open manner and more efficiently.
"Right now, many of those departments work separate
of each other," Samuel
said. "That's exhausting to city groups."
The city also can work better with neighborhoods to understand
their needs, voice the city's priorities in addressing problems
and projects and help neighborhoods across the city to work
"We've got to start looking and tallying what it is our neighborhoods
need," Samuel said.
Samuel said the Nov. 6 election is crucial to the city because
it's the first time many council members have campaign, with
the majority having been appointed to their seats.
"A lot of people voice their concern that there's only
one party represented on council. That's not our biggest concern," Samuel
said. "Six out
of seven council members were never elected."
Tyson are the only two candidates running head to head for
a council seat. Nine additional city council candidates will
run for four, four-year terms on council.
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