9 Questions for Anyone Running for Office In Canton

9 Questions for Anyone Running for Office in CantonThe City of Canton, Ohio is truly at a crossroads. Finally, there is real momentum in the effort to turn around our long languishing rust belt city. Unfortunately, there are also the usual braggadocios players arguing the best way forward while ignoring the obvious pain points.

So, good people of Canton, I ask you not to support anyone seeking office until they answer these eight questions and do so to your satisfaction. As my grandfather would say we have to separate the wheat from the Terra.

True leadership anticipates and mitigates crisis before they arise. What unknown pitfalls do you see on the horizon for Canton that you will work to resolve, implement, etc.?

Why do I ask?

It isn’t enough to be qualified to serve. You must have a vision and passion to lead. This is not the time in Canton’s history to hold a popularity contest. We need elected officials who understand the complexities of turning this city around and who can advocate for the measures that will get it done.

Will you support a higher degree of government transparency?

Why do I ask?

As the comprehensive plan says, in order for it to be successful the people of Canton have to be engaged. The more informed the more engaged people are. A great place to start would be for the city auditor to begin posting CAFR annual reports online again. These have not been posted since 2013.

What are your thoughts on diversity?

Why do I ask?

In order to attract and retain millennials a commitment to diversity has to be made. The empowerment of women and minorities, as well as the diverse artistic, culinary and entertainment a multicultural community provides is exactly what millennials are leaving the area to seek.
Also, Canton has a growing Spanish speaking community and with it a growing need for bilingual services. In order to keep this segment of the community from being undeserved clear vision to stay ahead of the curve is needed.

With budget cuts in Columbus and a decrease in local tax revenue, where do you stand on tax increases to bridge the gap?

Why do I ask?

Local tax receipts are trending downward and Columbus is cutting funding sent to communities. The only way to continue the current momentum may be to raise taxes. Raise them too high and you run the risk of exacerbating the flight out of the city.

Your thoughts on Canton City Schools?

Why do I ask?

Despite Canton City Schools spending more per pupil than surrounding districts, the school system continuously receives a failing grade from the state. We need to address how poverty and violence is impacting learning in order to stop failing our next generation. We cannot market our community if our schools are failing.

What are your ideas to improve public safety?

Why do I ask?

There were 7 homicides in 2015, 12 in 2016 and already in 2017 there have been high profile shootings. Stark County notched 59 heroin overdoses in 2017. In order for any economic development to take root our city has to provide a reasonable sense of security. The optics of these statistics are not good for our community. We can’t shrug our shoulders at these problems anymore. It’s no small feat but we need heightened public safety regardless of budgetary constraints. A solution is critical.

What are your ideas for increasing economic development?

Why do I ask?

Unemployment in Canton is currently trending upward according to BLS data (6.4% in February 2017, 1.5% higher for Canton than statewide). Nationwide Insurance is slated to begin phasing out local jobs and oil & shale has scaled back production. The one bright spot, Hall of Fame Village, creates unique challenges for downtown businesses. What is your vision to mitigate this?

Will you commit to combating hunger and homelessness in our city?

Why do I ask?

According to 2016 census data 32.3% of Canton residents live in poverty. One in every six Stark County residents live with food insecurity. As the county seat Canton bears the brunt of this problem. What vision do you have to decrease the at risk population, not just service them?

What criteria do you feel a business needs to meet to qualify for TIF Funds?

Why do I ask?

At some point Canton has to start attracting development that can operate at market rate and pay market rate taxes in order to offset the current general fund shortfalls. TIF funds should be reserved for projects that create jobs and benefit the greater community, not just a select few.

 

Do you have questions that you would like those seeking office to answer? As always your input is welcome. Feel free to post your questions here or connect with me on social media. I’m honestly looking for input on these points and will try to get your questions answered as well.

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