City Council candidates who took the stage were Adrienne Hood, Nick Bankston, Farxaan Jeyte, Nancy Day-Achauer and Luis Gil
Candidates on stage

District 5 candidates are Councilmember Nick Bankston (left) and Farxaan Jeyte

The first ever City Council district election is in November and roughly half the candidates met last night in a forum, not a debate, at the First Church of God on Refugee Road. The local chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, which is often referred to as an “organization of organizations” of African American women, sponsored the event.

The mayoral and Columbus Board of Education candidates were also invited. Mayoral candidate Joe Motil took the stage to field questions from the audience, but Mayor Ginther did not show.

Council President Shannon Hardin, running in District 9 (Far East), was in attendance but did not take the stage to field questions. Both Councilmembers Shayla Favor, running in District 7 (downtown and Near East), and Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, running in District 8 (Southside and Southeast), were not in attendance or did not take the stage. Melissa Green, running in District 6 (Hilltop and Southwest), was in attendance but due to time constraints and because her district is uncontested, she was not asked to take questions on stage.

District 1 (far North and far Northwest) candidate Chris Wyche, an external affairs manager with AT&T, was in attendance, but also was not asked to take the stage due to time constraints and because he’s running uncontested. Incumbent Rob Dorans for District 3 (west Clintonville and campus), was not in attendance as he was on official business for the City.

In fact, just one City Council incumbent took the stage last night – Councilmember Nick Bankston, who is running against Farxaan Jeyte in District 5, which encompasses northeast Columbus.

The general election is in November, and in 2024, a Councilmember will represent each of the 9 districts increasing the current number of Councilmembers by two. Progressive activists are shaking their heads in disgust, however. Even though Districts were approved by voters in 2018, activists are calling them “fake” considering November’s general election is citywide. And those candidates not on any Franklin County Democratic sample ballot are unlikely to win over any endorsed candidate.

Bankston opened his comments by telling the audience he was raised in the district he is running in, District 5.

 “The beauty of that district and of our city is the growth that you see. Around the apartment [where he grew up] there used to be a forest and farmland. Now there’s a subdivision with over 500 homes in it…and over 1000 apartments,” said Bankston, who chairs the City’s Economic Development division.

Jeyte, a graduate of Linden-Mckinley Stem Academy and Ohio Dominican University, said his greatest concerns, “unfortunately” are “obviously the crime” and also “food deserts.”

“There are so many different challenges within our community, so this is one of the reasons why I felt like it was time to make difference within the community,” said Jeyte.

District 4 candidate Adrienne Hood fielded questions onstage, but her opponent, incumbent Emmanuel Remy, did not join her. District 4 includes Forest Park, Clintonville, North and South Linden – and also the street where her son Henry Green was killed by Columbus police.

Hood said one of Linden’s greatest contemporary challenges is how the local (mostly broadcast) media often negatively portray Linden.

“Linden has a plethora of rich soil, but we often don’t see that when it comes to our local media,” said Hood. “I will not deny we definitely have our challenges. Our youth have challenges. Our mothers and fathers have challenges.”

She continued, “There are some things we can do as far as our youth is concerned. They are bringing in more things, such as rec centers, but we have lost generations of our young people with these things being taken away.”

Both candidates from District 2 are not incumbents – Nancy Day-Achauer and Luis Gil – took the stage to take questions.

Gil, a small business owner of Latino heritage, perhaps holds the most conservative ideological views of all the candidates.

“The fact of the matter is crime continues to climb up. Not necessarily homicide,” he said. “[And] those committing the crime are getting younger and younger.”

He continued, “There are many kids who need guidance...the fact of the matter is, where are the parents? Maybe they need better jobs. Well, we have an opportunity right now in this area when Intel comes. We need to make sure we take advantage this for the next generation.”

Day-Achauer, a pastor on the Hilltop, moved from Columbus from San Francisco in 2005, and has lived on the Far Westside since 2012.

“I have spent the last decade working directly for human service needs on the Westside. I haven’t just been living here, I’ve been serving here,” she said. “I’ve been addressing food insecurity, addiction, homelessness, senior services. Not just complaining about what’s not getting done, but actually working with other groups and creating programs that address needs.”

Day-Achauer said “public transportation is a huge problem” on the Westside and in Columbus, in general.

“I was in shock when I first moved to Columbus and found out I could not get a bus to go anywhere from where I lived.”