Columbus City Council Candiates Bicker Over Crime, Arena

Hearcel Craig makes a point as fellow Columbus City Council members Zach Klein and Michelle Mills listen.(Photo: WOSU)
Hearcel Craig makes a point as fellow Columbus City Council members Zach Klein and Michelle Mills listen.(Photo: WOSU)

The public purchase of Nationwide Arena,  saving jobs, fighting crime and managing city money  were issues that split the eight candidates for Columbus City Council at Thursday’s debate at the the Columbus Metropolitan Club.    The eight candidates are vying for four seats on council.

The eight candidates flanked the moderator. On the left the four incumbents: Hearcel Craig, Andrew Ginther, Zachary Klein and Michelle Mills. On the right sat the challengers: Mark Nobel, Daryl Hennessy, Matt Ferris and Robert Bridges.

The two sides hardly ever met in the middle.

Nationwide Arena Purchase

On the city and county’s planned $43 million purchase of Nationwide Arena in order to give the Blue Jackets free rent,  Matt Ferris, who narrowly lost a council bid two years ago , said it was a bad use of public dollars.  “Should Government be bailing out private institutions, and the answer is no” said Ferris.

Fellow challenger, Daryl Hennessy supports the area deal which uses about $10 million a year in  casino tax revenue.  But Hennessy wants an equal amount of money spent on neighborhoods outside the Arena District. “We need to make an equal investment in our neighborhoods,’ said Hennessy.

Incumbent Hearcel Craig defended the deal, “I agree we need to support our neighborhoods, but we also need to support that job center for our town.”


The  challengers said city council was not doing enough to fight crime by not hiring enough officers.  Libertarian Mark Nobel said the increased use of surveillance cameras violates civil rights and does not work. “All they do is deter the  crime away from the location of the camera, and push it down the side streets,” said Nobel

Nobel also charged that incumbents are not listening to neighbors, something Zach Klein disputed and pointed to a new anti-graffiti program. “We will be working with seniors and small businesses to help alleviate graffiti on their property,” rebutted Klein.

Job Creation

The two sides clashed over jobs, even when they agreed on a project.    Matt Ferris, like current members of council supports building a reace track at the old cooper stadium site, but he used the project to criticize council and president Andrew Ginther. “City council and city hall would not recognize true economic development if it came up and bit them on the rear end,” charged Ferris.

“I know you wanted to get in one shot Matt but you missed again and this council continues to stand of for what important to this city regardless of the attack,” responded Ginther.

Columbus voters on November 8th  will pick 4 of the 8 to serve on Columbus City Council.