Mayors from Ohio’s 30 largest cities and suburbs — including Dayton, Springfield and Hamilton — are joining forces to advocate for economic policies that will benefit cities and push back against what they say has been anti-city rhetoric from state government.
“Ohio is unique in that it has a large number of urban centers. That is why it is so important for us to come together with one voice to address the challenges and opportunities facing Ohio’s cities,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley at a Friday press conference unveiling the Ohio Mayors Alliance.
“Big picture: What is good for cities is good for Ohio,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who noted that last year $850 million in private money was invested in Ohio’s biggest cities, creating 8,700 new jobs.
The mayors appear ready to flex their collective political muscle. One-third of Ohioans — 3.4 million — live in Ohio’s 30 largest cities.
“I think more than anything else we want this organization to raise the awareness of what cities are and what cities are not in Ohio,” Cranley said. “I think too often the rhetoric coming out of (the state capital in) Columbus suggests that we are somehow welfare-dependent states. The fact is we are net donors to the state in taxes and most of the jobs are being created in cities. And we as cities give more to the state than we receive in return.”
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said state budget cuts over the past decade have translated into $215 million a year less in funding for local governments.
The group has yet to agree on its agenda or what it wants from the upcoming state budget. But Cranley said there is general agreement that cities need resources to address road and bridge repairs as well as the opiate addiction crisis.
The alliance includes 10 Republican and 20 Democratic mayors — a bipartisanship that Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone, a Republican, says is critical to its success. Stone said Beavercreek and other suburb members of the alliance can benefit from more communication with cities statewide.
“It’s a communication effort and it’s an opportunity to speak with one voice,” he said.