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Ohio Mayors Seek Help From State Lawmakers For COVID Recovery

Mayor Andrew Ginther tours the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Greater Columbus Convention Center
Mayor Andrew Ginther tours the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

A collection of Ohio mayors is calling on state leaders to hear them out on their priorities for the year. This bipartisan alliance says the state must work with cities to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ohio Mayor's Alliance is asking the state legislature to work with cities, including coordinated assistance with public health and support for local businesses.

Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn, a Republican, says that while the alliance is bipartisan, she's confident the Republican-controlled legislature would agree with their proposals.

"As a Republican I'm comfortable supporting them because they are saying that we want safer communities, we are saying we want economic recovery, that we want educational attainment," Muryn says. "And if somebody disagrees with that, we probably need to sit down and have a conversation."

The mayor's group is also seeking policies they say will improve public safety, such as body cameras, educational attainment with better school funding, and addressing racial inequality. Their request focuses on three pillars: recovery, resiliency and equity.

"There is no Ohio recovery from the Great Recession without Ohio cities, and there will be no recovery in the future if Ohio cities aren't leading the way, creating jobs and growing the economy," says Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, a Democrat.

Another issue that could become an area of debate between city and state leaders is the issue of "home rule." These are laws that allow municipalities the jurisdiction to make decisions on the local level.

Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler, a Republican, says protecting home rule for local communities will be another priority. But Scheffler expects most of the items the mayors alliance will advocate for will have wide support.

"There's lots of things that shouldn't be partisan in our group's minds, that will help all citizens of Ohio and allow us to do our jobs better," says Scheffler.

The mayors say they want the state to preserve several measures that have been proposed in Gov. Mike DeWine's state budget, such as the increase to the local government fund and avoiding changes to tax policies.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.