Columbus Mayoral Forum Poses Future Investment Questions

The future of investment in Columbus may play a key role in deciding the city’s next mayor.

If questions posed by voters Tuesday are any indication, the successor to four-term mayor Fred Armstrong may be the candidate with the plan which best balances downtown investment with economic stimulus elsewhere in the city.

A capacity crowd at the Columbus Learning Center asked whether the city should continue building an outdoor sports complex and attempted to determine whether Republican Kristen Brown or Democrat Priscilla Scalf has the better business acumen. Brown played up her experience as a manager at multi-million dollar corporations, including Indianapolis media firm Exact Target, and said part of her plan includes ethics reform.

“Trips are given, dinners are paid for, tickets to various things are given out.  Ultimately – I’ve worked in sales and marketing before – those things are given with the intentions of ultimately influencing a decision,” Brown said.  “And I’m accusing anyone of that, I’m just saying even the best-intended person receiving those kinds of gifts may ultimately have an impact.”

Scalf, who runs Columbus’ Eastside Community Center, said her small business experience can also translate to running city government.

“I can, all day long, talk about being an executive director of a not-for-profit and what it takes to raise money when you’re out there every day, writing grants,” Scalf said.  “You’re working with the community to raise those individual funds.  You’re having to stretch every dollar because we know that within the not-for-profit world those dollars are shrinking as well.  So it’s being creative, finding those partnerships and those collaborations to continue that growth.”

Both women say a vibrant downtown is important to the city’s future, but contend more money can be funneled to other areas of Columbus.

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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