Mayor's race: What's your top priority?

Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-28 14:34:30-04

WCPO's editorial board met with each of the three candidates for mayor of Cincinnati. We asked each the same three questions. We'll report their answers in a series of three articles leading up to Tuesday's primary.

Question: We now have a strong mayor system in Cincinnati, as well as four-year terms, giving the mayor both the power and the time to leave a mark on the city. What is the one priority you would want to be remembered for when your term is up?

John Cranley:
It’s always important to say safety is the number-one priority.

We spent a lot of time in reinvesting in the relationships that came out of the Collaborative Agreement in establishing a hard and a soft approach to crime.

Note: The Collaborative Agreement is a 2002 agreement that settled a lawsuit by several activist groups, including the ACLU, over police conduct in Cincinnati. It called for a new strategy of policing and other reforms, including stepped-up monitoring.

On the soft side, we have expanded the number of outreach workers, we’ve re-funded the Partnering Center, and we’ve made a historic increase in investments in human services and anti-poverty efforts.  Ideally, the legacy is to see a broader middle class, less people in poverty, and, as a consequence of that, less crime.

In the short term … we need to focus on a hard strategy. Which is why we’ve added 100 cops; which is why we worked to end (fire station) brownouts; which is why we’re bringing in ShotSpotter this summer; which is why I personally got involved to help improve relationships with the U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI and the ATF, working with the feds to lock up guys who are repeat bad offenders.

Note: The Community Police Partnering Center is composed of community stakeholders and members of the Cincinnati Police Department who work on strategies to reduce crime and increase trust between the police and neighborhoods.

Yvette Simpson:
I’ll focus on rebuilding our city in a way that is equitable. Within rebuilding our neighborhoods is dealing with the issues of inequity, poverty in our community and dealing with the safety in our communities.

We should take advantage of a time that we haven’t had, which is that cities are in again. And we want people to choose us.

So what I hope is that what you see over the course of four years is a renewed focus on the places where people live and spend their time, from the physical footprint and what that looks like, and also in rebuilding communities. I hope that you will see a significant shift in that.

Not just in those things but in the responsiveness from city council, the mayor’s office and our administration to the needs of communities. It has to be the most important thing that we do.

Rob Richardson:
My one priority would be to put us in a position to be one of the most competitive and innovative cities in the world. But you can’t do it by doing one thing. You can do it by aligning a couple of things together. One – expanding education access and opportunity for our kids and families. The mayor does not control education, does not control the budget and doesn’t necessarily control workforce, but it’s so important for our future that the mayor can and should use his influence on the process and do everything possible to move people out of poverty and into opportunities and jobs. 

I’d like to see us implement a comprehensive transportation plan that connects people with the jobs they need to get to. That’s the single most concrete thing that could be done right now. It’s not moral to allow 75,000 jobs to be inaccessible to citizens of our city. Also, the most creative and entrepreneurial people want to live in cities where they don’t have to depend on cars. So if we don’t do this, we’re not going to be economically competitive. 

Finally, we have to look at how we do housing. We have to make sure that it is more inclusive as we grow. Growth doesn’t have to come at the expense of excluding people from that process and just relocating people and creating new pockets of poverty. We can do it in a way that is inclusive.

Doing those three things would do the one thing that I want to see happen -- become a more innovative and inclusive city.