Columbus leaders review 2021, look ahead


COLUMBUS — The state’s capital city, whose northern boundaries extend into southern Delaware County, had an eventful 2021 and wishes for a hopeful 2022, as reflected in recent comments from its local leaders.

“The Franklin County Commissioners honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and are inspired by his example of tireless service to others,” said a press release issued Monday. “Difficult times require us to work collectively for a brighter future, and for our nation to finally live out the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. The commissioners encourage all Franklin County residents to set aside time today for service to the community in honor of King’s legacy and to continue to make our county a wonderful place to live.”

Offices were closed in observance of the national holiday. However, last month, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners passed a balanced budget for 2022, with no fee or tax increases.

The City of Columbus is hosting a virtual town hall meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday on its Facebook page, YouTube channel and CTV. The meeting will feature the finalists for the city’s first-ever inspector general position. The candidates are Pamela Davis, David Harper, Jacqueline Hendricks-Moore and Rena Shak.

Franklin County residents can participate via email at [email protected].

The position is part of what Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has called “historic investments in neighborhood safety” on the part of the city. In a letter to the community published Nov. 10, 2021, he wrote that the city is at a crossroads, which has led to “some of the most sweeping policing reforms in our history.”

Among those reforms, Ginther wrote, “We’ve changed the city’s use-of-force policy, implemented independent investigations into instances of deadly force, established the Civilian Police Review Board and Inspector General for the Division of Police, hired a police chief from outside the division for the first time in history to advocate for change, developed immersive, community-based training for new recruits, enhanced the body-worn camera program, and successfully negotiated historic changes to the F.O.P contract that will benefit both our residents and our officers.

“Everyone has a role to play in building a safer, more resilient Columbus,” Ginther continued. “We will not achieve our goals overnight. It will require time, patience, persistence and collaboration to see these plans through. The challenges we face are complex, and they are varied – and so too are the solutions. But we are steadfast in our resolve to always do more, and do better, to achieve the greatest possible impact. Columbus bands together, time and again, to meet the needs of the moment and to exemplify the exceptional standard to which other communities aspire. We have done it before, and we will do it again.”

Columbus topped 200 homicides in 2021, the deadliest in the city’s history.

“Opportunity City” is the title of a newsletter issued in December by Ginther. Wishing all good health, prosperity and joy in the new year, Ginther said, “Your perseverance and compassion are precisely what will enable us to build a better tomorrow, and I am excited to continue our momentum, and to tackle new challenges, in 2022 and beyond.

“At the same time, we must remain vigilant,” Ginther continued. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again, our best defense remains getting vaccinated (and boosted, if you are eligible) and wearing a mask where advised and appropriate. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster was recently approved for anyone age 16 and older, adding another vital layer of protection as we continue to monitor the emergence of the Omicron variant.”

The COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses are distributed to Columbus residents by Columbus Public Health, 240 Parson Ave., and at drive-thru and clinics throughout the city.

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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