Primary council 3 grid Jerome for 4-1-15 news

Q&A attached as breakout in related content


Q: Restaurants in The Commons, for example, are city tenants because they pay rent to the city. Should the city be in the business of acting as a landlord, or would you suggest another approach? Explain.

A: This is a constant problem. The previous method was through CDI, which the mayor rejected. Nothing has worked well in the manner we are using now, but we are learning and we are getting better at it. Cities, due to state codes and lack of expertise, cannot rent effectively.

Q: What three improvements to city government would you like to see, and why?

A: Allowing department heads to manage their departments as they were hired to do. All city employees should feel free to express their opinions without fear of backlash. The atmosphere for city employees is tense, even hostile. Improve this, or even more experienced people will join those who have left city government.

Q: What should the working relationship be between the city council and the mayor?

A: The council and mayor are separate branches of government. Politics can be defined as the art of compromise; consensus should be sought. The “my way or the highway” atmosphere is unacceptable. The council is not a rubber stamp. They represent the voters, too, and their opinions need to be heard.

Q: Should city government provide money for the arts and nonprofit organizations? Explain why or why not.

A: Money provided should be based on services to the city. We provide $500,000 to FFY to maintain a city building. The city also owns Mill Race Center, paid for with donations. We should maintain that building, too. The Arts Council supplied many services to the city that should be compensated.

Q: Columbus is faced with the need for an overpass at the intersection of State Roads 46 and 11 to alleviate an expected increase in railroad traffic and a growing number of commuters along the city’s west side downtown entrance. An overpass could cost about $35 million. What is your solution for funding it?

A: The changes in rail traffic will make a bad situation intolerable and dangerous. The cost of realigning the tracks including an overpass to match one on U.S. 31 north of the city should come mostly from the state and railroad. The city portion would have to be small.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.