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Ask The Mayor: Columbus Mayor Lienhoop Talks Transition

Downtown rail tracks, human rights ordinance lawsuit and mayoral campaign promises. These are just a few of the items on the mayor's desk.

On this week's installment of Ask The Mayor, Mayor Jim Lienhoop addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: What motivated you throughout the years to serve on different boards and councils?

Lienhoop: I think we pretty well understand in Columbus that we have a great community but it doesn't happen on its own. People need to step up and volunteer. Part of the time you're going in a spot to help things move along, but at time you're asked for some leadership. I got asked to help participate in the city council nine or ten years ago, that was intermittent, I started for good about seven years ago and that led to me running for mayor.

Hren: When you were out talking with residents, was there a familiar theme that people were looking for in their next mayor?

Lienhoop: I think so, part of what we heard about was collaboration and a little congeniality - a more pronounced willingness to work with others to get along in the community. It's really important for us to live together.

Hren: So it's been a month, what's it been like?

Lienhoop: Well, it's been a bit of a blur. I continue to be amazed at the diversity of services we offer. We land airplanes, we pick up puppy dogs, we have a parks department a police department, just a number of things that have an impact on people's lives. At the same time the mayor gets asked to show up to lots of places and I've enjoyed that.

Hren: Did you have to adjust at all on a personal level now that you're mayor?

Lienhoop: Well, I spent forty years as a practicing accountant. A lot of what you do is not public. And now I've gone full circle, to where everything you do is extremely public. So there's a little bit of an adjustment you have to make.

Hren: Your campaign promises are still on your website, have you had time to roll out any long term plans on your initiatives?

Lienhoop: We've refined those topics a bit. One is public safety, the second is educational attainment and the third is economic opportunity.

Public Safety:

Columbus is a pretty safe city. Our violent crime rate is below what's to be expected of a community our size, but our property crime rate is a little higher. So you look for the reasons or causes of that and we think there are two. One is some of the drug issues we deal with and the second is there's a fair amount of poverty here.

So we're looking at employment trying to provide economic opportunities and I think we're also looking at enhanced drug enforcement activities. I've already met with our sheriff and our police chief and there are plans they have in mind that will help.

Educational Attainment:

The biggest correlation to economic success is educational attainment. We need everyone to stay in school, get their high school diploma and pursue education beyond that. It's critical to their success. And respect to the community's success, we have to be able to perspective employers the kind of workforce they want.

Economic Opportunity:

Right now the unemployment rate in Columbus is low, but we're heavily invested in cyclical industries. We need to be prepared with something that maybe isn't counter-cyclical but at least isn't on the same cycle. So we begun to talk about changing the philosophy that our local economic development board has with respect to recruitment.

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