May 7, 2009
Neal Wagner -
Preparing to take office, "working for a better Columbus" and preparing a list of city projects are among the items filling the agendas of three local men elected to serve the next four years on the Columbus City Council.
Ward 3 Councilman-elect Charlie Box and Ward 6 Councilman-elect Bill Gavin, both Republicans, and Democratic Ward 1 incumbent Gene Taylor all won soundly Tuesday over their same-party rivals during the municipal election primary to claim spots on the City Council.
And although the three men are nearly two months from being sworn into office, they already are making plans for their first few months on the job.
"I plan to continue the work I started a few years ago and continue to build Columbus," said Taylor. "I want to help in every aspect that I possibly can to help the city grow.
"As far as projects that I want to work on, I am attempting to find a spot where a grocery store can be built in Ward 1, and I would like to see more sidewalks built throughout the ward," Taylor added. "I am for creating a better Columbus, and I plan to do that for the next four years or the next 20 years if I''m lucky enough to be around that long."
Because Box and Gavin are council newcomers, they are working on orienting themselves with their new offices and constructing "battle plans" to combat city problems, they said.
"Before I take office, I plan to do a lot of listening and looking around to help get myself up to speed on everything the city is facing right now," said Box. "I want to be ready to go the day I am sworn in so I can have a better idea of how to work toward solutions to these problems."
Gavin said his first action likely would be organizing a citywide "shop Columbus first" campaign to encourage local residents to keep their tax dollars in the Friendly City.
"Starting a campaign like that is an easy, quick and inexpensive way to benefit the city immediately," said Gavin. "If we could convince people in Columbus to shop local, it would provide support for retail businesses and it would provide more tax revenue to the city to help solve some of the city''s problems."
Because Box and Gavin agreed drainage, crime and city tax revenue were the most pressing issues facing the Friendly City, both said they were planning to address the problems soon after taking office.
"There are three things that I have proposed to help the city," said Box. "The first is to keep working to get national legislation that will call the Army Corps of Engineers to address the drainage problem in Columbus. That was started by the county and the current council, and they have done a great job with it so far.
"The second would be to get the city to provide a 3 percent preference for local bidders. I just think local bidders should get some kind of preference when bidding for projects with the city, which would keep that money in Columbus," Box added. "I also want to institute a 24-hour response time for all complaints to City Hall. We may not be able to solve all problems in 24 hours, but we should be able to give people some kind of answer within 24 hours."
Gavin said he planned to uphold the promises he made to voters before the election.
"We''ve got to get in and clean out the ditches in the city to help the flooding problem," said Gavin. "Just little things like that could have a big positive impact immediately.
"I''m a worker, and people elected me because that''s the bill of goods that I sold them," Gavin added. "I will not let them down, and I plan to work very hard to uphold my promises."
Although Ward 3 incumbent Gene Coleman and Ward 6 incumbent Jerry Kendall were defeated respectively by Box and Gavin Tuesday night, the outgoing councilmen had nothing but kind words for their replacements.
"First of all, I want to congratulate Charlie for his victory," said Coleman. "Am I disappointed? Yes, but it has been a wonderful four-year experience for me.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the mayor and the other City Council members," Coleman said Wednesday. "The only thing I want to stress is that I wish more people would get involved in their city government. It''s a shame when you have such a low turnout in an election like you did yesterday."
Kendall seemed to echo Coleman as he praised Gavin for "running a clean race."
"I certainly did enjoy my time on the council. I do wish I was still there, but I''m not," said Kendall. "Bill is a good man, and I wish him the best of luck. I hope he does well for the city."