Year in Review: Politics and Government

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman spent much of 2005 looking for a new job.

“I’m here to make announcement. I’m running for governor of the state of Ohio!”

In February, Coleman’s campaign looked good. He was the only major democrat in the race. Another heavy hitter – Congressman Ted Strickland said he would not run. The Coleman got into an argument with conservative radio talk show host Glen Beck. A campaign adviser was arrested for drunk driving. Ted Strickland changed his mind, entered the race and picked key endorsements. Then Coleman’s wife was arrested for drunk driving. Last month – Coleman pulled out of the race.

It has become increasingly clear that to win this race which I firmly believe I can win it would require that I neglect my duties as mayor during the course of this campaign, said Coleman.

First the first time since taking office Congresswoman Deborah Pryce has a serious challenger. The #4 Republican in the House will face Franklin County Commission chair and Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.

“Things in our community.. job loss, the thing with Katrina, the poverty in this country, the war, ethics, the environment.. so many tissue that drive me to run for congress and win this seat so the people of the 15th district can have a representative more in tune with their priorities and values.”

Kiloy is expected to try to link Pryce to scandals involving Republican Bob Taft.. and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Pryce said she’s not worried about that.

“Well I’m not Tom Delay and I’m not Bob Taft or any of those people. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done for the people of the 15th district. I plan to run on my record.”

Questions about ethics and improper dealings with a Washington lobbyist followed Congressman Bob Ney of Heath .. Voters in his district are watching with scorn and skepticism.

“Mine is pretty negative, I think he’s a crook,” said a man in St. Clairsville. “I don’t believe the media, I think he’s done a good job,” said a Ney supporter.

Issue politics ignited debate during 2005 the start of the year brought enforcement of a smoking ban in Columbus. Bar Owners like Patrick Byrne complained it would hurt business and force layoffs, “It’s gonna hurt. We’re ready to cut shifts. People are prepared to lose hours over this if not their jobs entirely. They know it.”

Opponents of the ban asked the voters to exempt bars. Columbus voters overwhelmingly said no, prompting ban supporters like Dr. Marie Collard to look to bring the smoking ban statewide.

“I think the fact we’ve had a comprehensive ordinance that’s held through two separate elections in Columbus that it will send a strong signal that that’s what the state of Ohio should do, said Collard.

Columbus city Council approved installing cameras at 15 intersections to catch drives who run red lights. The ACLU’s Jeff Gamso had Orwellian worries. “Cameras at a few intersections in Columbus are very incremental; it’s a small thing on its face. But it’s another instance where what they really want to do is know were everybody is all the time.”

Columbus police officer Jeffrey Blackwell disagreed, saying the cameras will prevent accidents, “I think the deterrent effect will be significant. The real consequences are the tickets and once people begin to get tickets at those intersections, I think it will have an impact on their driving.”

Columbus lost one of its most popular and controversial politicians in 2005. Former Columbus School Board top vote getter died in August. He was running a write-in campaign when he died.

A central Ohio Marine unit suffered heavy casualties in 2005. 23 members of Lima Company were killed in Iraq, 9 in one attack. Among the dead, Robert Derga’s 24 year old son Dustin “I always had the fear even on the day he signed up that it might lead to something like we are dealing with today but his mother and I always supported him,” said Robert.

Members of Lima Company, including Mayor Coleman’s son, returned in October to a hero’s welcome and were saluted throughout the fall.