COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther talked about many of the challenges the city has faced over the past year and still faces today during his annual State of the City address Wednesday.
Despite those challenges, Ginther said there is reason to be hopeful, and his address echoed that optimistic tone.
Ginther said he’s made some mistakes over the year and has learned from them. Now he’s more optimistic about the future than ever before.
“What a year, but we’re still standing,” he said.
He outlined his plans to move the city forward both past the pandemic and everything else the city has gone through this year.
“We’re on the path to a comeback, Columbus,” Ginther said.
Much of his recorded speech was about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is bringing more attention to racial inequalities in the city. Ginther also talked about plans to increase affordable housing and offer more early education opportunities.
In addition, he also discussed the city’s efforts toward police reform, Black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement both locally and around the country, and the calls for change in the city.
“I wish I would have come out sooner and spoken out earlier and changes our approach to how we were engaging with peaceful protesters,” Ginther said.
Ginther also talked about violence in the Capital City. Columbus is on pace to have the second straight record-breaking year for homicides. The mayor said challenges from the pandemic are partly to blame for the rise in violence, outlining efforts to curb violence, especially when it comes to children.
“Reducing crime is just one example of the long road we have in rebuilding our community – and doing so equitably,” Ginther said. “All of our young people suffered greatly from this pandemic. Few may have been infected, but all have been affected.”
The mayor also discussed social justice issues. After deadly police shootings of unarmed Black people around the country and in Columbus, there have been loud calls for police reform. Ginther talked about changes made in the city on how police respond to non-violent protests and the Civilian Review Board.
Ginther also said the search for a new Columbus Chief of Police is ongoing, with the application period closing at the end of next week.
Mayor Ginther’s full 2021 State of the City address can be viewed below.