Cincinnatians' Ideas May Get Turned Into Real Policy At "Policy Pitch Night"

Aug 13, 2018

Cincinnatians are invited to review and vote on different ideas to improve the community Monday night at a "Policy Pitch Night."

Cincinnati Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld teamed up with the community engagement company Bridgeable to create an initiative for community members to submit their ideas for new Cincinnati policies. 

Around 30 policy pitches were submitted by members of the community and reviewed by members of the Bridgeable network. The final five pitches will be presented and voted on by community members Monday night.

Sittenfeld says this is a unique way method of getting the community involved in the policymaking process.

"I think the ritual of pitch events that you see in the start up community could be extrapolated and deployed for the good when it comes to government, too, so we're really excited to see what comes out of this." says Sittenfeld. "There's a little bit of a dynamic for this as a 'Shark Tank' for policy but with much nicer, kinder judges."

Dani Isaacsohn, the founder of Bridgeable, says the final five pitches were chosen based on their  feasibility, their potential impact, and how excited the reviewers were about the policy idea. 

The five final policies are:

  1. A policy to increase gender parity on city-appointed boards and commissions, submitted by Hamilton County's commission on women and girls.
  2. The creation of a digital ombudsman to respond to questions and complaints from people in the city. 
  3. A department to combat homelessness, modeled after similar departments in other large cities. 
  4. The creation of an office for minority growth, inclusion, and innovation, which was pitched by MORTAR, an urban entreprenuership organization.
  5. To freeze property tax rates in certain neighborhoods. 

Sittenfeld will champion whichever pitch gets the most votes at City Hall and try to get it turned into real city policy. 

Isaacsohn says everyday members of the community often have the best insight into how to make the city work better. 

"Our core principle is that living an issue every day makes someone an expert," says Isaacsohn. "If someone rides the bus every day that makes them an expert on public transportation. If they pay more than 80 percent of their income on rent they're an expert on affordable housing."

Sittenfeld agrees and says that one of the goals of the Pitch Night is to inspire people to get more involved in their government. 

"I think there's always room for more people to look at their government at all levels and say 'There's a place for me in this, too,' and we wanted to say one of the most immediate places you can plug in is by sharing your good ideas," says Sittenfeld. "Some of the very best things that I've done didn't originate in my own head but they were ideas that constituents suggested to me." 

The Policy Pitch Night will be at 6 p.m. Monday at People's Liberty on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine.