Three women, two white, one black

In Columbus, the enormous influence of corporate interests and wealthy campaign donors are reflected in the city's policies and initiatives. As a result of these imbalances, many of the city’s residents, particularly those in poor and minority neighborhoods, have very little impact on decisions made by our city’s political leaders.Although the political leadership in Columbus is dominated by the Democratic Party, this does not necessarily translate into progressive policies.

The Easton tax abatement is not old news and we cannot treat it as such. City officials agreed to a complex, massive tax giveaway worth $68 million to an out-of-state corporate developer (also, a campaign donor to the mayor) to build housing at Easton Town Center. The developer, in return, agreed to provide a mere $5.75 million for infrastructure and revitalization efforts in Linden, most of which will be reimbursed by taxpayers.  

Shockingly, the Columbus City School District, which was kept out of the negotiations, will lose $46 million in the deal. This is what happens when we allow city council to prioritize corporate interests above the needs of the community

We've watched this type of crony capitalism continue to benefit a select few in Columbus and further segregate our neighborhoods. It is unacceptable. A functioning local democracy requires community participation and accountability.  When political decisions are made without involvement from communities, only the most privileged groups reap the benefits that belong to us all.

We the people need to hold our city’s leaders accountable at the ballot box. Fortunately, there is a primary election on May 2 for City Council.

This election cycle, I’m supporting Will Petrik and Jasmine Ayres for City Council and Abby Vaile, Amy Harkins, and Erin Upchurch for Columbus School Board. These candidates are staunchly committed to a set of core values that include a livable wage, affordable housing and public transportation, safe neighborhoods, and strong public schools.  

The fact that they have the support of Yes We Can Columbus, a grassroots organization of everyday people who want to build a powerful, progressive local political movement here in Columbus, is telling. Yes We Can has mobilized the political energy of activists and working families in Columbus to support candidates for local offices and is driving a citywide movement to bring change to City Hall.

On May 2, we have the opportunity to bring real, meaningful change to our city. The question is – will we take it?


Kevin Truitt