FOX19 called current Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Smitherman to ask him our five questions for city council candidates. Smitherman is one of 21 candidates vying for 9 spots on the Cincinnati City Council in the November 2013 election. His responses are below.
Q: Tell us about yourself
Smitherman was born in Cincinnati. He attended high school at The School for Creative and Performing Arts. He earned a post secondary degree in Criminal Justice at Ohio State University and completed a master's degree in Counseling at Bowling Green State University.
Smitherman is a financial planner and he's been in business for 16 years.
Him and his wife, Pamela, a Western Hills teacher, have five children and live in North Avondale.
Q: Do you think privatized parking is a good idea?
Smitherman says it's a terrible idea. He feels that the city sold the parking lease and the assets included for far less than they are worth. His primary concern is that the city gave up the revenue. He'd prefer that the city effectively administer their own parking assets, so they are able to keep the revenue.
Smitherman told FOX19 that he thinks the administration was distracted by the streetcar. Smitherman worries that Cincinnati isn't used to aggressive parking monitoring tactics that the lease calls for like boots, high-priced first time tickets and GPS tracking.
Smitherman also worries that the public isn't totally educated on the fact that the new parking system will move into the neighborhoods as well as downtown.
Smitherman says he was disappointed that the public didn't get an opportunity to vote on the measure.
Q: Do you support the streetcar project?
Smitherman says the streetcar project is a horrible deal for Cincinnati's citizens, just like the stadium deal. Smitherman feels that the public's vote on the streetcar was tainted by confusing ballot language.
Smitherman's primary concern is that Cincinnati's citizens are paying for the streetcar with debt and that debt will accrue interest and grow. Smitherman also worries that the usage will be below budgeted estimates and the daily operating costs will drive Cincinnati into more debt.
Smitherman says this election is very much so about the streetcar because two expansions of the line are set to take place during this four year term.
Q: What do you think about the condition of our public schools?
Smitherman says his children attend CPS schools. He believes they could be better but cites the success of some of the high schools like Walnut Hills, SCPA, Taft and Clark Montessori.
Smitherman says the next focus of CPS should be on improving early childhood education services. He'd like to see more time and resources devoted to offering parents more desirable options for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. However, Smitherman says the weight of great education doesn't just sit on the shoulders of CPS; he calls for more parents to become engaged in their children's education.
Smitherman also says education is a challenge in a district where so many of the kids are living in real poverty. He says it's important that those parents get good jobs so their children don't go to school hungry.
Overall, Smitherman says the district needs improvement but there are options for parents who want to have their kids in Cincinnati Public Schools.
Q: What do you think would make Cincinnati a better place to live?
First, Smitherman said that great mass transit to connect our airport is key to the success of our region.
He'd like to see the city develop better relationships with other partners in the county for better services and events.
Smitherman says our property and income taxes are too high and they keep us from attracting and keeping a lot of fiscally minded businesses.
Smitherman also thinks our infrastructure is in need of repair. He says the city has been deferring road repairs and putting that money on the streetcar project.
He also talked about the five daily brownouts in Cincinnati fire houses. He says these brownouts negatively impact response time.
Smitherman is proud of our parks system and the work that's happening downtown but he'd like to see some of the growth spread to Cincinnati's 51 neighborhoods.