Democratic candidates for county commissioner debate the issues

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Franklin County clerk of courts John O’Grady said the first issue he would address as commissioner is the foreclosure crisis.

“Fighting foreclosures is key to everything we want to do as a county,” he said. “This crisis undermines job creation, threatens regional development and robs those most in need of vital social services.”

Former city council president and appellate court judge Cindy Lazarus’ says she will stress the importance of economic development on a regional scale to address similar issues such as public transportation.

“We cannot continue a pattern of having isolated community by isolated community attempt to address the issues of concern to us,” she said.

Both candidates said they would consider a new transit system for better access to the downtown area. Lazarus said although it will be an expensive endeavor a public transportation upgrade will have a positive impact on the community.

“Whether there is a plan that, in fact, is feasible given the other demands on our funding systems, I don’t think anyone in this room is in a position to know,” she said. “But, public transportation is critical to us being able to continue being stable and healthy in the future.”

O’Grady said more affordable downtown parking should be considered as well.

“We need to find better and more affordable places for folks to be able to park,” he said. “Not everybody can afford to be downtown.”

Neither would say how they would have voted concerning the Huntington Park contract dispute that recently landed the county. Lazarus cited a lack of information concerning the specifics of the case. But they both stressed the importance of responsible public bidding.

While they agree on many issues the candidates diverge on the topic of having a democratic primary. O’Grady, the endorsed democratic candidate, disputed Lazarus’ late entrance into the race. And, he highlighted her lack of party support. When asked if there should be two democratic candidates O’Grady said: “Well no, no there shouldn’t be. It should just be me.”

Lazarus says a primary offers more choices to voters and makes them excited about the electoral process.

“We should have more primaries and not be punishing people and bullying people because they dare to offer themselves to the voters for the voter’s consideration,” she said.

While O’Grady said he would take on a position at the county commission full time, Lazarus said she will split her time between the commission and the Columbus YWCA where she is currently president and CEO.