Coleman Going For 4th Term As Columbus Mayor

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Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman announced Tuesday he will a record fourth consecutive term in office. WOSU spoke with the mayor about his re-election bid.

He calls it a growing city, one that has improved over the past several years, with stable finances and strong neighborhoods. But Mayor Coleman, who’s 56, said his job is not complete. So he plans to run again this coming fall for another four years as the city’s leader.

“I feel that we need to step up in the areas of intervening our youth. We need to continue to address this issue of crime in our neighborhoods. We’ve been focused on that this year, and we’re going to continue to be very focused on that,” Coleman said.

As of this week, Columbus registered 93 homicides – a 24 percent increase compared to the same time last year. Two-thousand-nine could have been the mayor’s most challenging time in office. The city faced a huge deficit, layoffs and service cuts. Coleman managed to convince voters to pass the first income tax increase in 20 years, which he said prevented massive layoffs of police officers and firefighters.

As the nation’s economy continues to wane, Coleman said Columbus has fared better, with about 8,500 new jobs in the city this year. The mayor wants to continue to work on job creation and downtown development if he’s re-elected. Critics say small businesses in downtown still struggle, but Coleman maintains the city’s center has improved since he was first elected.

“But our downtown needs to continue to be prosperous and growing because it is the engine that drives the regional economy in Central Ohio. And without a strong downtown that engine sputters,” he said.

A big proponent of green energy and passenger rail, Coleman said he will continue to work toward bringing trains to Columbus. But the newly-elected all-Republican administration could be a roadblock.

“I do think that by virtue of killing the passenger rail system between Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, I think that it makes it more difficult to have rail in the city of Columbus. And frankly, by having it, if we had it, it would put us in a better position, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to have it,” the mayor said.

Coleman is entering his 12th year in office. If he’s re-elected and he serves a full term, Coleman would become the city’s longest serving mayor. In the city’s nearly two centuries, only Jack Sensenbrenner served longer, 14 years, split between two terms.