Democratic City Council candidates stressed the importance and potential impact students could have on the upcoming 2015 elections during a visit to Ohio State.
Four of the five candidates endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party introduced themselves and highlighted their respective platforms for OSU students on Thursday in the Round Meeting Room of the Ohio Union.
But candidates Elizabeth Brown, Shannon Hardin, Zach Klein and Jaiza Page also addressed the role students can play in the upcoming mayor and City Council elections during the event, which was hosted by OSU’s College Democrats, and emphasized the importance of getting out to vote in municipal elections.
Incumbent Hardin said the Democratic candidates have the ability to connect with students and young adults in a way that is “unique and organic.”
“We are a young group of progressive leaders and they are a young group of progressive leaders,” Hardin said of students. “Just asking people to come out and be engaged will spray the message about progressive change throughout the campus and throughout the city.”
The Democratic candidates are vying for five open City Council seats on Nov. 3. They join candidates John Rush, Besmira Sharrah, Ibrahima Sow, Dimitrious Stanley and Ashley Wnek on the general and special election ballots.
Brown, daughter of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, is entering her first City Council election this year.
“Columbus is a growing city, it’s a young city, and the perspective that college students have on what we need in this city is exactly what we need to be making smart policies around how we grow,” she said.
During the meeting, the four candidates touched on topics ranging from student-housing conditions and neighborhood safety to job creation, with Brown addressing the need for paid maternity and paternity leave and Hardin speaking of his decision to run as the first openly gay, African-American male City Council candidate in Columbus.
Michael Lakomy, president of the College Democrats and a third-year in accounting, said voters have an opportunity to elect the “youngest, most progressive City Council ever,” which he added would be a good move for Columbus.
“They’re very policy-focused people, they talk about these issues that are really important to them and how they are going to fight for them on counsel, and I love that about this particular group of people,” he said.
Although Michael Stinziano was invited but couldn’t attend the meeting, he was there in spirit, echoing the candidates’ efforts to highlight the importance of the upcoming election.
“All politics are local,” he told The Lantern. “Going out and voting for your elected municipal officials is the best way to make an impact on your school and community.”
Levi Cramer, director of communications for the OSU College Republicans and a third-year in political science, said the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on diverse, young City Council candidates, with 2015 OSU graduate Sow, first-generation American Sharrah and former OSU wide receiver Stanley.
“If the student body wants their candidates to be a young and diverse group, we encourage them to take a look at the republican slate, we think they’ll be happy with that they see,” he said in an email.
But in terms of student engagement in the runup to the Nov. 3 election, Klein said the importance of involvement transcends partisan politics.
“This is about engaging young students in our community and talking about all of the wonderful things our city has to offer so that when they graduate, they want to stay here.”
Michael Huson contributed to this article.