A primary choice: Three seek Democratic nomination for council District 3

Three Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination for the redrawn Columbus City Council District 3 in the May 2 primary.

Current Columbus City Council District 1 incumbent Jerone Wood, 34, is seeking a second term on the council, albeit in a different district. Wood is being challenged in the Democratic primary by local therapist Tony Hayden, 31, and Cummins Inc. engineer Michael Kinder, 32, for the nomination.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican candidate Sue Norman-Chapple in the November general election. Norman-Chapple is running unopposed in the GOP primary.

The upcoming primary will be the first election since the city council districts were redrawn as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process following the 2020 census and the city’s decision to adopt “second class” status.

Under the new map, which goes into effect in 2024, District 3 picked up some areas of District 5 and District 1 but lost some areas to District 4.

Q: What would you hope to accomplish if you are elected to the city council?

Hayden: I’m running for city council because, I care about my community and my district. I’m ready to be the voice in our community. I commit to bringing transparency and accessibly to our district.

Kinder: I hope to continue the city’s initiatives as well as finding new ways to improve how we address pressing issues like the affordable housing shortage, homelessness, and drug use. I understand that these issues require long-term support and cannot be resolved overnight.

I believe it is essential that we work within our means. To achieve this, I would prioritize completing the large projects already in progress or in the pipeline, such as the NexusPark and the hotel conference center outlined in the Envision Columbus plan, before taking on any new significant city projects. By focusing and finishing these projects successfully, we can ensure they have the intended benefit to the community without stretching our resources too thin.

Finally, I hope to build a strong relationship with the community by promoting transparency and accountability. I am committed to showing up for the job I am elected for by representing the community’s interests by attending city council meetings, city commission meetings, responding to constituents’ concerns, and advocating for initiatives that benefit the community as a whole. I want to work collaboratively with other city council members and community stakeholders, so we can build a better future for Columbus.

Wood: If elected to city council I would hope to be a voice for the constituents in District 3. Being that I am resident in this district, I face the same issues and as result I feel I am able to represent the people in this district. I hope to also bring awareness to the importance of voting. Every vote counts and everyone’s voice matters.

What are the biggest issues in your district and how would you address them if elected to the city council?

Hayden: Transparency is my number one issue in my district. People should know how their government works. People should know their representatives. People should feel like their voices matter.

Kinder: Answering this question is difficult because the district lines in Columbus have recently changed due to becoming a Class 2 city. While there are city-wide issues like drug abuse, homelessness, and lack of affordable housing, these may not be the biggest concerns for those in District 3. For me, the most significant issue that needs addressing is my understanding of what the people in this new district see as problems that affect their lives. Therefore, my goal would be to make myself available and listen to the constituents to better understand what they face in their day to day. I could make assumptions based on what I observe, but ultimately, it’s the voices of the people that determine the actual biggest issues in District 3 that need to be prioritized. By understanding the community’s concerns, I hope to be able to represent them effectively and work towards solutions that best serve their needs as I feel that is the responsibility of an elected official.

Wood: Being that this is a new district, I am not 100% sure about the issues in this district. That is something I intend on learning throughout this campaign process. I would imagine housing and opioid use are two of the issues in District 3 and that is something I will continue to speak out against.

Q: There is a shortage of affordable housing units in the city, and many households are struggling with housing costs. If elected to the city council, what would be your approach to expanding the city’s supply of affordable housing?

Hayden: Affordable housing is one of my major platform issues I plan to address if I have the honor of becoming a councilman. I believe we should try to invest in more affordable housing and also reinvest in our existing housing. We have to utilize and expand residential zoning. Why it’s very simple! It’s a human right to have affordability in housing.

Kinder: As a member of the Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, I am frequently faced with the question of what is the right way to approach the affordable housing concerns. In my opinion, updating our zoning ordinances to make the approval process for accessory dwellings more accessible and efficient would be one useful step forward. This will contribute to the community’s affordable housing stock while also reducing urban sprawl. Additionally, I propose exploring unconventional housing developments that can provide housing at a more reasonable cost. A great example of this is the “Genesis homes” by Arbor Homes, which consists of small clusters of homes that are not typically seen in housing development plans. I believe that being open to innovative solutions like these can lead to addressing the affordable housing crisis.

It’s important to note that while affordable housing is a priority, safety should always be considered. I firmly believe that there is a right way to provide affordable housing without putting people’s well being at risk. Therefore, any efforts to increase the affordable housing supply must prioritize safety and quality, so people can have access to affordable housing without compromising their health and safety.

Wood: Affordable housing has been an issue in Columbus for quite a while now. If elected I plan to continue to speak out against luxury apartments being built. I plan to also continue to be present at events and community events discussing this issue. There is no quick fix to affordable housing but I am dedicated to assist our community in finding solutions.