FINDLAY, Ohio, November 26, 2016 – Q: Earlier this week, you were elected by your peers to serve on the board of the new Ohio Mayors Alliance. What is this group and its mission?
A: This was the brainchild of Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. It is a grassroots organization, a coalition of the mayors of the state’s 30 largest cities, obviously a bipartisan group, with a mission to strengthen collaborations between ourselves and foster stronger partnerships with state legislators and federal policymakers because, while things are going well in Ohio, we still have some challenges that we have to address.
Q: What challenges would you put at the top of that list?
A: I think one that’s on everyone’s mind is the huge infrastructure problem we have, not just here but through the entire country. Municipalities are doing what they can with the resources they have available, but cuts to local government funds make that a challenge, given the way we’ve had to change the way we go about meeting the needs of the city. Lost revenue means lost investment capacity, which puts at risk the growth created by the very policies that precipitated those cuts. Our cities are the places where that growth happens. If we can’t continue to improve the quality of life in our cities through strong partnership with the state, it limits our ability to grow and be successful.
Q: How do you plan to reach those objectives?
A: Our plan is to communicate peer-to-peer with our representatives, mainly in Columbus. The state level will be our focus for now. There are other organizations that are great advocates on behalf of local governments in the State of Ohio, but this one is made up exclusively of mayors of some of the state’s largest cities, cities that contribute significantly as the centers of economic activity, so I am very proud to play such a significant role.
Q: Do you envision the Ohio Mayors Alliance strictly as an advocacy group or as a lobbying organization that seeks out elected officials to present specific policy proposals?
A: Personally, I feel it could be both. Certainly we have the opportunity to come up with specific positions on policy and issues, and with the bipartisan nature of the group — 20 of the 30 cities are led by Democratic mayors — we can be sure that the positions we take will be mutually beneficial and supported across the aisle.
Q: This is an organization that could potentially wield significant influence on policy, certainly at the state level. Should those in smaller communities and cities that are not among the 30 largest be concerned about being left out of the conversation?
A: We invite them to come along with us. We intend to work closely with groups like the Township Association, the Municipal League and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to ensure we reach the shared goal of “do no harm.” Because there has been some impactful legislation that challenges home rule for communities of all sizes.
“Good Mornings!” with Chris Oaks airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on WFIN, 1330 kHz. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 419-422-4545.