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Local News / Your 2021 Voter Guide To Cincinnati City Council, CPS School Board And Hamilton County Ballot Issues

Cincinnati City Council candidates on affordable housing, economic development issues facing the city

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Affordable housing and economic development rank high on the list of concerns for Cincinnati voters.

A charter amendment on the May ballot would have required the city to put $50 million a year in an Affordable Housing Trust Fund; the measure failed easily with 73% of votes opposing it.

Still, Issue 3 proponents did seem to inspire affordable housing-related action at City Hall. Council created an affordable housing subcommittee and a housing advisory board; city administration adjusted the city's HUD plan to create a $34 million revolving loan pool to finance development (that application is processing); and council approved a plan for spending federal stimulus that includes $6.4 million for the existing affordable housing trust fund as well as other housing-related projects.

Meanwhile, the latest research shows a deficit of 19,230 affordable and available homes for extremely low income renters in Cincinnati. HUD data shows about 55% of the roughly 40,000 extremely low income households in Cincinnati (both renters and home-owners) are severely cost-burdened (spending more than 50% of income on rent/mortgage and utilities).

Here's how the candidates for City Council answered the question: What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

RELATED: See how candidates responded to all 5 questions in our survey

Scroll through this page to see all the responses, or click a name in the list to jump directly to that candidate.

WVXU has only edited candidates responses for style and clarity. All candidates are listed alphabetically.

City Council Candidates

RELATED: View our full 2021 voter guide to the candidates, levies and charter amendments on the ballot

Jalen Alford

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 19
Neighborhood: Bond Hill
Campaign website: jalenalford.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

To address the ongoing issue of homelessness and affordable housing that exists in Cincinnati, my course of action will be to initiate the Restoration In Society Equitably Initiative (R.I.S.E.), which aims to reduce homelessness by renovating many of the city’s unused/abandoned warehouses and buildings to create low income housing, in which people will receive access to government subsidies/ assistance programs, and while being housed they will be paired with a social worker that will assist them with financial literacy and other services to ensure they’re on track for re-acclimation into society. Furthermore, when it comes to legislation or incentivization, that all development deals in this city include affordable housing.

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Tom Brinkman

Party affiliation: Republican
Age: 63
Neighborhood: Mt. Lookout
Campaign website: gobrinkman.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Transparency and accountability are paramount to moving forward. Just last week the Mayor tried to run through a $1.7 million marina but was caught.* We must pass Issue 3.

* Reporter’s note: For context on this comment, see reporting from the Cincinnati Enquirer here.

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Jaime Castle

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 44
Neighborhood: Mt. Washington
Campaign website: castleforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Cincinnati is behind many other cities in its establishment of an affordable housing trust fund that has set revenue sources and is sustainable. Other cities also have set standards for development projects wanting residential tax incentives. Columbus, for example, has a tiered ranking for neighborhoods that is evaluated every three years and directs the most attention to areas that need development and investment. Cincinnati can also use measurable distress indicators (like poverty rate and growth in median rent) to determine which areas of the city would receive 100% 15-year tax abatements on improvements made on a property and areas that are less in need of investment than others can include things such as affordable housing units, and environmental remediation as a requirement to receive these incentives.

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LaKeisha Cook

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 36
Neighborhood: Westwood
Campaign website: votelakeishacook.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The key to getting affordable housing in Cincinnati is educating realtors and developers about the payment system for housing. Any realtor that has previous property would complete a form online to state how much their rent is and the city would determine how much they would pay. It is essential that we create a system for realtors to be paid on time to increase affordable housing units. Then new residential development throughout the city of Cincinnati receiving a tax break/tax abatement be required to a percent go to affordable housing. This will provide diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all of Cincinnati. Recommendation would be to cut or defer property taxes for seniors or disabled residents who risk the loss of their home due to rising property tax bills caused by new construction around them. The city of Cincinnati reduces the timeframe of tax abatements to the high income neighborhoods. Increase African American homeowners through outreach programs through tax abatements. The time is now to update the tax abatement policy to ensure people are not priced out of their neighborhoods.

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Jeff Cramerding

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 47
Neighborhood: West Price Hill
Campaign website: jeffcramerding.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city’s priority for development projects should be those that 1) produces jobs 2) with a focus on neighborhoods that are suffering from blight, disinvestment and population loss.

When used correctly tax incentives return blighted and abandoned properties to productive use, catalyze redevelopment and create jobs. I have worked on many projects in Price Hill that would not have been possible without an incentive or abatement. The city’s abatement program could be more tiered depending on neighborhood condition and more clearly linked to specific outcomes.

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Michelle Dillingham

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 48
Neighborhood: Evanston
Campaign website: votedillingham.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

In early 2018 I was leading the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition and we launched a campaign to educate the public about the harmful impacts of tax abatements on public education funding. Little did we know that within days of our public information campaign, Jeff Berding would be at the Board of Education asking for tax breaks for the FC stadium. With our advocacy and community organizing, the topic of tax abatements became front page news. While economic development incentive tools like the tax abatement have played an important role in attracting investment to our city, in the last eight years they have become detrimental to African American households, and have exacerbated the loss of these households from our city. Council’s inaction to change these policies that have been proven to be racist is a top concern of mine and is why I have been organizing for reform. We need to adjust the abatement program so that it performs its intended goal: draw in economic investment to areas where the market is not. In Cincinnati the wealthiest neighborhoods are receiving the most tax incentives, while those who are on fixed incomes end up paying more. This is opposite of what these programs were meant to do.

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Kevin Flynn

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 60
Neighborhood: Mt. Airy
Campaign website: flynnforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Projects should receive aid from the city in an amount just enough (to get the deal done), at just the right time and in just the right place. People need to understand that it is difficult and more expensive to do a project in the city. Community and Economic Development need to be able to assess a project, including a pro-forma budget, to initially decide if a project needs city financial assistance. Most projects need assistance. Property tax abatements are the best method to attract residents and businesses to Cincinnati. Abatements have a minor negative impact and provide opportunity for growth as a city, long term growth in property tax base (after abatement period ends), and immediate growth in city’s most important revenue source, the earnings tax.

I helped create the first funding source for affordable housing, utilizing commercial tax abatements to provide sustainable funding. Moving forward, we need to rethink affordable housing developments, incorporating such housing into the fabric of economically inclusive zoning. We need to provide opportunities for renters to utilize sweat equity to assist in obtaining home ownership, creating generational wealth and a pathway to breaking the poverty cycle.

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Jackie Frondorf

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 35
Neighborhood: Westwood
Campaign website: jackiefrondorf.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Cincinnati’s population is growing for the first time in decades. But that growth is only positive if every one of us is moving forward. Per the U.S. Census Bureau, Cincinnati’s poverty rate in 2019 was 26.3%. This shows that we need stronger job training programs, more businesses that offer competitive-wage jobs, and more affordable housing. We can encourage more affordable housing by finding a consistent revenue source for the affordable housing trust fund, applying for federal HUD grants, working with CMHA, and improving our property tax abatement policies. In 2020 the Property Tax Working Group released recommendations to assist low-income residents, seniors and people with disabilities, along with suggestions for improving the residential abatement program. I would work to ensure these recommendations are implemented. The current tiered tax abatement program primarily benefits green construction, which has undoubtedly made our city more environmentally friendly but does not incentivize affordable housing. I would look into extending abatement to projects that include an affordable housing component.

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Bill Frost

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 59
Neighborhood: Pleasant Ridge
Campaign website: frostforcinci.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I believe tax abatements are an important tool in city development. We need to double down on the fact that they are intended to offset "risk" being taken on any particular development. We need to not only target the tax incentives to the developers, etc., who are taking risk to help our city, but we need to re-visit these incentives at regular intervals to understand if the "risk" is still there. We should not be allowing tax incentives to skew the local tax landscape after the risk has subsided and the developer can declare success. This approach is particularly important as we add to the supply of affordable housing over the city. The inclusion of affordable housing into a development is something that should be helped to be economically viable by tax incentives where appropriate.

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RELATED: Where Cincinnati Public Schools Board candidates stand on the issues facing the district

Brian Garry

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 56
Neighborhood: Clifton
Campaign website: briangarry.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I support and will prioritize affordable housing, as I have for decades. I also support inclusive and equitable development. However, I don’t support the development of exclusive luxury-only condos and apartment buildings that displace existing residents and destroy life-giving community ecosystems. We must be always inclusive, never exclusive. The role of development is to grow our city, but it is unfair if development comes at the expense of our existing legacy residents. In order to solve our affordable housing crisis, I support a three-pronged approach.

First, we need to protect our existing affordable housing by placing a moratorium on the destruction of affordable housing. Secondly, we need to allocate funding to create more affordable housing, and we need to do this by finding a permanent revenue stream for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Finally, we need to create new affordable housing opportunities by providing targeted tax relief to homeowners, increasing co-op housing, utilizing community land trusts and community development corporations. For me, some of the most important issues related to development are ensuring that we have the infrastructure to support the legacy residents of our existing neighborhoods.

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Steve Goodin

Party Affiliation: Republican
Party endorsements: Republican, Charter Committee
Age: 51
Neighborhood: Clifton
Campaign website: goodinforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I support the work of the Tax Abatement Working Group and absolutely favor revisiting the manner in which we award incentives for residential development. We will likely always need some incentives to encourage multi-family developments, but I have grown concerned about potential abuses of our program for single-family residential units, especially those which involve tear downs and rebuilds on the same parcel.

We do, of course, need additional affordable units (especially 60-80% AMI “workforce housing” *) and we should continue to explore creative public-private partnerships to build it. But we also must be mindful of the fact that we need more housing (and density) overall — both to drive down rents and housing prices, as well as to offset the impact of remote working on our earnings tax. We need more housing units, of all kinds. And we should work actively to encourage new construction and development in neighborhoods which can reasonably sustain the increased density.

* Reporter’s note: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s most recent data shows the vast majority of households severely cost-burdened by housing are extremely low income (30% AMI - Area Median Income)

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Galen Gordon

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 45
Neighborhood: West End
Campaign website: galenforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I believe the key to advancing economic development in our neighborhoods is to empower local residents who have an entrepreneurial mindset. We can cultivate those mindsets and provide support that helps residents become successful business owners and investors prepared to buy property within their business districts. In turn, this helps generate wealth for legacy families, circulate the dollar within the neighborhood and diminish the harmful effects of gentrification.

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Kurt Grossman

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 66
Neighborhood: Downtown / Central Business District
Campaign website: grossmanforcouncil.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city needs to increase its housing stock, support small businesses, attract good-paying jobs, and grow our population. To do this, we need to recognize we are competing with other cities and do the things that make the city the most attractive place to be to live, work and play (e.g., accessible broadband in all our neighborhoods, expanded multi-modal transportation options, even pickleball tournament facilities). I will work with all stakeholders to develop a long-term viable funding solution for affordable housing, and will consider relaxing zoning requirements as appropriate for each neighborhood. I will push for a fully featured, clear-cut scoring system to ensure that we are promoting projects and utilizing tax incentives that are best for the city, and not just the developer. I would reserve long-term (30-year) tax abatements for affordable housing developments, projects in distressed areas, or projects that create a large number of high-paying jobs. Finally, I would offer attractive relocation packages to incentivize people and businesses to move into Cincinnati.

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Reggie Harris

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 39
Neighborhood: Northside
Campaign website: reggieforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

We must commit to long-term strategies that will strengthen communities and empower families to achieve housing security for generations to come, regardless of zip code. Our future as a city should hold as a top priority equitable, permanent, resident-centered revitalization of and investment in all communities, especially those that need it the most.

With a goal of investing in communities equitably, I plan to pursue the following tax abatement reforms:

- Following the lead of City Hall in creating clear criteria

- Leveraging the use of abatements to create more affordable housing units

- Making tax abatements customizable and not one-size-fits-all

- Targeting efforts geographically to diversify where new development is happening

- Leveraging tax abatements to create more successful Community Benefits Agreements that put the needs of the community first

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Rob Harris

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 43
Neighborhood: Carthage
Campaign website: robharrisforcouncil.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I will address our affordable housing crisis by modeling cities that have transitioned from bad to good. In addition, creating affordable housing agreements between developers and housing residents. With a budget adjustment, in addition to reallocating the American Rescue Plan funding, should be the city's priority for development projects. Tax abatement and incentives must be reformed in a way that both the developer and the renters are benefiting.

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K.A. Heard

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Party endorsements: Green
Age: 30
Neighborhood: Westwood
Campaign website: stayheardcommittee.weebly.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Affordable housing is very important in our city. In my opinion, we need more incentives to create more homeowners. We need to put families in a position to create generational wealth for their kids and their kids. We need more incentives for first time homeowners, individuals with bad or no credit and others. As a city we need to build our families while building our population.

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Evan C. Holt

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 33
Neighborhood: North Avondale
Campaign website: holtforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I believe that most or all tax abatements given out going forward should either be seeking to close the affordable housing gap or provide a vital resource for underdeveloped neighborhoods. Currently, 9 out of 10 of them seem to be subsidizing luxury condos and luxury home improvements that have contributed to the rapid increase in market rate rent as well as an increase in property taxes. This is unsustainable.

Our tax abatements should be overwhelmingly used in the betterment of improving historically underserved neighborhoods. Twenty-five percent of our 52 neighborhoods are food deserts, lacking access to fresh grocery. I would seek to use our tax abatements to inspire the creation of food co-ops, which will be crucial in reducing our city's nationally recognized high childhood food insecurity rate.

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READ: Cincinnati council candidates talk transportation

Nick Jabin

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Age: 23
Neighborhood: Mount Washington
Campaign website: jabinforcouncil.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I believe in less tax abatements for large corporations and businesses and giving more opportunities back to the people. When it comes to housing we must provide enough affordable housing for all the people of Cincinnati so we can start healing our communities health problems.

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Mark Jeffreys

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 52
Neighborhood: Clifton
Campaign website: votejeffreys.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city’s objective should be to create the conditions for the economy to grow with good paying jobs, and conditions that yield more affordable housing. The city’s strategy for incentives should be to ensure that it’s not subsidizing activity that would have happened already, but that it’s an accelerator of investment that is beneficial to the community. The first change I would make is to ensure that tax abatements are not used in high zip code neighborhoods where it's not needed. Second, I would ask that the city manager do a benchmark review of tax abatements vs other cities to understand best-in-class programs. Third, to incentivize more affordable housing, I would enable homeowners to build “accessory units,” e.g. create a basement unit or in a garage, which is one of the quickest ways to create more housing quickly. I would also look at incentivizing more affordable units being built via height restriction incentives e.g. allowing two more stories to be built on a unit if they are affordable. Community engagement should be a part of this process. These are the types of structural changes we need to make in our incentive system to create the conditions for more economic growth and growth in affordable housing.

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Scotty Johnson

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 59
Neighborhood: Mt. Airy
Campaign website: scottyforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Our city needs to continue to grow and that means bringing in new projects to Cincinnati. When we discuss growth, we need to make sure that everyone is benefiting from this, not just a few. But when we discuss development, we need to get input from all parties involved. I have spent my career working to build relationships between communities, police, business, labor, non-profits and governmental agencies. I know how to get everyone at the table and start working with them to come to a solution that everyone can agree upon. I spent more than 33 years doing that for the city of Cincinnati and I am confident that I can do it again.

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Liz Keating

Party affiliation: Republican
Party endorsements: Republican, Charter Committee
Age: 37
Neighborhood: Hyde Park
Campaign website: votelizkeating.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I was a member of City Council’s Affordable Housing Subcommittee. The recommendations coming out of that work included zoning changes, public-private partnerships, upgrading blighted buildings, and more. I have championed legislation to change zoning and increase density on major arterial routes and along transit lines throughout our city. This will expand our tax base, increase housing supply, and give people direct access to transit to get to and from jobs.

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Andrew Kennedy

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Age: 38
Neighborhood: Pleasant Ridge
Campaign website: voteforkennedy.org

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

On dealing with developers: We need to be skeptical of politicians getting involved in these deals and empower and entrust the professionals that work in City Hall — whose job it is to deal with them and who are getting paid through OUR tax dollars to do so. And if there is some sort of impasse, then council needs to discuss it openly, transparently and in the public eye. It is simply the council’s role to understand what is happening surrounding those developments and assist the city manager and the city development staff in prioritizing, if asked. This, so we can achieve the larger initiatives we want to achieve to continue to grow our region. Furthermore, I will work with other council members to come up with a code of conduct, so we can hold EACH other accountable. As a member of council, you can, and SHOULD make the proper introductions if needed between developers and all other parties, and then butt out. Empower others. This, to assure voters that when projects come before city council those folks will get the fair hearing they deserve. Not given out as favors — but given out based on what is best OVERALL for our city. I am not a big fan of tax abatements but they are necessary in some cases. Focus on booming our economy!

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Greg Landsman

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 44
Neighborhood: Mt. Washington
Campaign website: greglandsman.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Stagnant wages, population growth, and a loss of existing affordable units have convened to create our multifaceted local housing crisis. We must make serious investments in all types of housing to keep up with our growing city, but also work on pragmatic reforms to our development process to ensure these investments are equitable and effective.

The passage of the Balanced Development Priorities Scorecard this spring marked the culmination of two years of research and engagement. It amends our tax abatement system to incentivize development projects that include local jobs (+livable wages), small and minority-owned businesses, affordable housing, and anti-displacement commitments. When it goes into effect this fall, City staff will analyze every development project based on these priorities and present their analysis to council and the public.

Additionally, I’ve led on the new "Housing for Everyone Fund" (has invested around ~$50 million in the creation of new housing); fought to secure funding for a study on a tiered residential property tax program in Cincinnati (to overhaul that program early next year); and drafted legislation for per-property parking minimum waivers for affordable housing projects.

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Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 65
Neighborhood: North Avondale
Campaign website: kearneyforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

1) Incentivize inclusion of affordable housing in development plans by tying in municipal benefits such as automatic density waivers, tax abatements, tax increment financing.

2) Look at the city's inventory (managed by The Port Authority) of vacant land and buildings and create plan to renovate for affordable housing.

3) Build up the city's affordable housing trust fund to $50-$100 million to allow low-interest loans for development of affordable housing, and buying/renovating property for 60% AMI or lower.

4) Consider land trusts where homes could be owned but would stay affordable when sold.

5) Consider a 3CDC type of entity that would focus on affordable housing development.

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READ: How council candidates would address corruption

John Maher

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 43
Neighborhood: Northside
Campaign website: maherforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city must prioritize affordable housing and economic development. The new administration must expand the use of tax incentives for affordable housing development and increase transparency in the tax incentive process. We must do our best with incentivizing developers to provide the affordable housing units we need. While the city currently offers some incentives for affordable housing, we must be more aggressive to spur the private sector to act. We need to target areas of the city that need and can support more affordable housing. We must reform our tax abatement process. Currently, housing projects do not need to include a single affordable housing unit in order to be eligible for a tax abatement. I’d like to change this so that a percentage of the abatements go to the development of affordable housing units. We must also make the tax abatement and TIF programs more transparent for those applying and for the local community.

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Peterson Mingo

Party affiliation: Democratic
Neighborhood: Evanston

This candidate did not respond to the survey in time for publication. 

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Phillip O'Neal

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Age: 33
Party endorsements: Democratic
Neighborhood: Avondale
Campaign website: votephilliponeal.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

I have been informed that there are currently discussions to bring together a committee of all vested interests to develop a long-range plan for affordable housing. This would include communities, citizens, business interests (real estate developers) and organizations dedicated to these issues. My perspective at this time is that it is unsustainable for the city to assist in developing high-end properties without making a definitive plan and commitment to rental and homeownership for those employed who cannot afford escalating renal rates. While much has been said about the homeless, and much should be done for the less fortunate, not much is said about working families, though employed, who not only pay income taxes, but are the mainstay of local retail purchases and of sales taxes. We need to create a metric system around abatements to be equitable in supporting all of your neighborhoods not just a select few.

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Meeka Owens

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 43
Neighborhood: North Avondale
Campaign website: votemeeka.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

City Council, in collaboration with the mayor, can set the legislative priorities for the city. City Council should understand the needs of our neighborhoods, and where the next developments should be being prioritized. City Council can act as a body to convene folks around the table, to set our priorities for development, and ensure that no matter what your zip code is, you can succeed. I do want to empower community councils in this process as well, and ensure that those neighborhoods without community councils have a seat at the table, and are given proper representation. We need to be prioritizing expanding all across the city, and focusing on ecosystems of health. Not allowing food deserts to persist, creating safe opportunities for multimodal transportation, improving access to jobs and health care, and doing revitalization in a comprehensive way should be at the core of our conversations on economic development.

Changes to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements, should be made by the professionals at City Hall, to ensure when we are providing tax incentives, we are implementing them equitably, and across all our neighborhoods.

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Victoria Parks

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Democratic
Age: 63
Neighborhood: College Hill
Campaign website: voteparks.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

There is a clear disconnect right now between residents of our neighborhoods and developers. Can you imagine if members of our communities were proud rather than resentful of new projects? Council must instruct the city manager to work with community council and neighborhood redevelopment corporations to implement master plans with community development that ensure equitable progress and vibrancy. My home neighborhood of College Hill has been a model for this, along with Westwood and East Price Hill. I think each neighborhood should have a say in how to address their housing challenges and approve of public/private financing deals. But broadly speaking, this is a regional issue that requires a regional solution, including leveraging federal funding, philanthropic dollars, and public sources from governments across the region.

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Te'Airea Powell

Party affiliation: Democratic
Age: 33
Neighborhood: East Westwood
Campaign website: powellforcincy.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city needs to prioritize development projects that offer real affordable housing. I would want the city to have a stipulation of “rental caps” for developers that request tax abatements.

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Logan-Peter C. Simmering

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Party endorsements: Green
Age: 35
Neighborhood: North Avondale
Campaign website: simmeringforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

The city should prioritize building social housing developments itself, instead of trying to entice for-profit developers to add a sprinkling of affordable housing to market rate projects, as well as facilitating the establishment of community land trust, and neighborhood-owned development cooperatives, to ensure that the development of the city is rooted in the needs of its residents. Conversely though, the city should work to make housing easier and cheaper to build privately by reforming zoning, building codes and the permitting process.

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Stacey Smith

Party affiliation: Non-affiliated
Age: 29
Neighborhood: West Price Hill
Campaign website: staceysmithccc.wordpress.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Only considering developments for tax abatements if their housing developments contain at least 25% PERMANENT low-income/affordable units.

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Betsy Sundermann

Party affiliation: Republican
Party endorsements: Republican
Age: 44
Neighborhood: East Price Hill
Campaign website: betsysundermann.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Remote working has threatened future city budgets, so we must work quickly to increase our city’s population so we can afford basic services, social services programs, etc. The best way to support population growth in Cincinnati is to build more housing at every income level. We must ensure citizens are safe in their neighborhoods and can afford to live here. As a council, we must make Cincinnati as business friendly as possible by limiting regulations and offering incentives for businesses to put down roots here. Also, we must limit the tax burden on residents so they want to both work and live in the Queen City.

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Jim Tarbell

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 79
Neighborhood: Mt. Auburn
Campaign website: votetarbell.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Thoughtful economic development is important for rejuvenating our city and its neighborhoods. I believe all funding mechanisms need to be reviewed to make sure they are still serving their original purpose and are sufficient for future development plans. The covers on Fort Washington Way and the ensuing development that come with them come to mind.

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READ: Explaining Issue 3 and its pros and cons

John J. Williams

Party affiliation: Democratic
Party endorsements: Charter Committee
Age: 58
Neighborhood: Downtown / Central Business District
Campaign website: johnjwilliamsforcincinnati.com

What do you believe should be the city's priority for development projects, and what changes (if any) would you want to make to the city's incentive system, including tax abatements?

Affordable housing is key to the sustainability and growth of the city. The city has a housing issue that has all been branded under the term “affordable housing” however, the issue also includes the need for increased homeownership especially in the minority communities. The housing issue also includes tax complications associated with abatements and tax bills that hurt fixed income seniors who have been caught up in the world of increased property value. We need to look for projects that promote affordable housing without displacing our Black and brown communities and at the same time we need to find programs that help increase home ownership. Tax incentives need to undergo an impact study that would include economic benefit or detriment to the city budget and CPS. The duration of incentives and the ability to pass them on to a third party needs to be assessed. Finally, more people should be educated about the fact that incentives can be taken advantage of by any socioeconomic class. Economic development will be generated by better housing policies and accountable government.

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