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Columbus Mayor Says Ethics Reform Idea Laudable But Unneeded

Despite the Republican nominee for mayor of Columbus saying the city needs ethics reform, the city’s retiring mayor says he has never been lobbied with gifts.

Kristen Brown

Photo: Bill Shaw / WTIU News

Republican Kristen Brown has pushed for ethics reform as a plank in her campaign for mayor.

Columbus Republican mayoral candidate Kristen Brown has been careful not to single out any instances where gifts given to city employees may have influenced the course of government, but she says she hears about them while canvassing the city.

“Oh, I hear specific examples all the time, but that’s just hearsay,” Brown says.

But Mayor Fred Armstrong, completing his fourth term in the office, says in more than a decade and a half on the job, no one has offered him perks for his patronage.

“I have been in office for going on 16 years.  And not one time – not one time – have any of those people wanted to take me to lunch or to do anything in order to get my vote or tell someone to vote for them.  Not one time,” Armstrong says.

Still, Brown says the voters she talks to seem distrustful of their elected leaders and need a greater assurance that city business follows the rules – even if Columbus has to make a rule stricter than state guidelines.

“I do think there is a lack of confidence and trust on the part of many citizens,” Brown says.  “It’s what I hear when I’m going door-to-door.”

Mayor Armstrong, speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” says Brown is trying to solve a problem that does not exist.

“No, it doesn’t exist.  Actually, it doesn’t exist whatsoever,” he says.

Brown says she favors a rule like ones adopted in Indianapolis and at the Statehouse which limits gifts in excess of a certain value, perhaps $50. She faces Democratic mayoral nominee Priscilla Scalf in next month’s election.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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