COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — While much attention is focused on two statewide constitutional ballot issues this November, voters in Columbus will also decide on a major municipal race.
Two-term Mayor Andrew Ginther is up for re-election. Four years ago, he ran unopposed — but this year he faces a challenger. Ginther is a veteran, well-known politician in Columbus. On Nov. 7, he’s up against Joe Motil, who has never been elected to public office but is no stranger to the ballot.
Both Motil and Ginther said they have a vision and list of priorities, and each points to a record of service.
“We’ve built the fastest growing economy in the Midwest, added 27,000 jobs, been able to secure a quarter of a billion dollars for housing for folks at all price points as we continue to prepare for the future,” Ginther said in an interview. “We’re adding more police classes than ever before.”
Ginther is running on his record as a politician. Joe Motil is running on his experience in the community.
“I served on the University Area Commission, I served on the Clintonville Area Commission, I served as vice chairman of the Columbus Historic Resources Commission,” Motil said in an interview. “I am currently the 31-year president of the Friends of Tuttle Park Recreation Center, I was the zoning chair on the commissions as well.”
Motil has been running for public offices for decades; he’s been on ballots six times since 1995 but has never been elected. He is highly critical of the tax abatements the city gives to developers. Ginther said they are critical to attracting big employers — like Intel — and housing developers.
“We think it’s critically important — one of the things we’ve done for the first time in the city’s history is make sure that affordable housing is incorporated into these abatements and incentives,” Ginther said.
Motil said federal American Rescue Plan dollars should have gone to affordable housing — and large businesses should pay their share.
“Our hotel/motel tax, 8.43% of that tax goes towards an affordable housing trust fund. I want to see that increase to 25%,” Motil said. “Intel, they need they need 5 million gallons of our water to operate their facility. I want to use that as a bargaining chip for Intel to say, ‘Look, you’re contributing to our affordable housing crisis.'”
Ginther said he wants to prioritize housing, safety and transit.
“I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future and want to continue to serve the people of Columbus as we grow just in a dynamic way,” Ginther said. “I want us to grow in an inclusive way to make sure every family in every neighborhood is sharing our success.”
Motil is focused on housing and solving homelessness.
“I want people to know that I think most of them do that know me that I truly care about the city and I truly care about the people in the neighborhoods.”
Watch NBC4’s The Spectrum Sunday at 10 a.m. for more from Colleen Marshall’s interviews with both mayoral candidates.