‘We are better together’: Clark County leaders want to see unity, increased focus on COVID-19 relief under Biden

Several local leaders say they would like to see Joe Biden’s immediate focus be on vaccine rollouts, COVID-19 relief and unity as he was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday.

“We are better together. We get more done when we are working together,” said Springfield City Commissioner Dave Estrop.

“I am convinced that is what the country needs right now. The hope is that the two parties can come together toward issues facing the country, especially the pandemic,” said Estrop, who is an Independent.

The Springfield commissioner said the most critical problem facing the country right now is the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that he would like to see the Biden administration as well as members of congress focus on ways to get materials needed to quickly produce the COVID-19 vaccine as well as work on ways to get it distributed faster.

“The economy is going to need attention in the short term. However, the faster we can get the vaccine the faster we can get to something approaching a normal situation.” Estrop said.

Some of the first moves by Biden, a Democrat, are expected to be related to the pandemic, such as imposing a mask mandate on federal property as well as installing a coronavirus response coordinator to oversee the White House’s efforts to distribute vaccines and medical supplies, according to CNN.

Biden also unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal meant to address the health and economic crises caused by the pandemic. It calls for more aid for the unemployed and those facing eviction as well as additional support for small businesses, states and local governments, according to CNN.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said additional money to states and local communities is needed as some face spikes in unemployment as well as have residents who were laid off or had their hours cut.

“It is important that additional money is sent directly to those that need to buy food and pay rent,” Copeland said in reference to a federal proposal to increase stimulus checks to citizens.

Copeland said that though the City of Springfield has seen slight reductions in income tax collections, the area has seen an increase in homelessness amid the pandemic.

The mayor mentioned that the city has received state and federal dollars to help address those issues.

Copeland said it will be crucial for the new administration and congress to continue to focus on COVID-19 vaccine distributions, which began late last year under President Trump’s administration.

Copeland added that he would also like to see an increased focus on economic recovery such as money being directed towards infrastructure projects.

Ross McGregor, president of Springfield manufacturing company Pentaflex, said that he would like to see what the new administration’s policies will be towards workforce development and international trade.

He said the two biggest things facing his business is the attraction of needed labor and the availability of materials such as steel. Pentaflex makes safety parts for the heavy truck market.

McGregor said that tariffs on imported steel from countries such as China imposed under President Trump’s administration has reduced the amount of steel available to companies such as Pentaflex as well as increased steel prices.

He added that finding reliable workers remains a problem even though there are plenty of manufacturing jobs available amid the pandemic.

McGregor said on Wednesday that he was grateful that the inauguration was peaceful. There were safety concerns due to the storming of the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters two weeks ago. That event lead to an large increase in security surrounding Biden’s inauguration.

McGregor said changes made by Biden will have to be done thoughtfully and the president will have to keep in mind those who will be the most impacted by those decisions.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“You can’t call for unity in one breath and then completely rock the boat in the next breath. It is a balancing act being a leader in charge of change,” said McGregor, who is a former Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Timothy Howard, the Mayor of the Village of Enon, said “I hope that we have more unity, more civility and I hope that our national leaders take more of a respectful approach in leading the country.”

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said in a statement on Wednesday that “It was an honor to represent Ohio’s 8th District at (the) Presidential Inauguration.

“Clearly, there will continue to be differences, but I appreciated President Biden’s efforts toward unity in his speech. I am looking forward to finding common ground where possible while continuing to defend freedom, solve problems and serve people, rebuild our economy, and assert the principles that make America the land of opportunity,” he added.

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