Monday, April 28, 2003

GOP slate focuses on crime

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Hamilton County Republican Party will roll out a slate of nine endorsed candidates for Cincinnati City Council today, along with an agenda that includes crime fighting, economic development and tax cuts.

Just don't call it a "platform."

The Republican-endorsed candidates for Cincinnati City Council are:
• John C. Connelly, 31, Mount Washington
• Terry M. Deters, 46, West Price Hill
• Pat DeWine, 35, Hyde Park
• Leslie Ghiz, 33, Hyde Park
• Tom Jones, 57, North Avondale
• Sam Malone, 32, Bond Hill
• Chris Monzel, 34, Winton Place
• Barb Trauth, 55, Hyde Park
• Pete Witte, 34, West Price Hill
"I would call them more like a list of common goals," said GOP Chairman Michael Barrett. The agenda will be short on specific legislative priorities, but more a vision of what kind of a city the Republican parties would like, he said.

"We think the crime issue is A-number-one," Barrett said. "People are afraid to go downtown because they think it's unsafe. The neighborhoods are even tougher than they used to be. Take that bar in Avondale - Uncle Milt's. It's clear that the police are having trouble there, but the owners seem to have some kind of protection from City Council."

The exact solution to the crime problem depends on which candidate you're talking to.

Pete Witte, a Republican challenger from Price Hill, is pushing for the city to hire still more police officers. But some other candidates weren't ready to go that far. What they do agree on is more accountability for police commanders, and expansion of police-community efforts like Citizens on Patrol.

The party, which now holds two seats on the nine-member council, has a full slate for the first time since Democrats sealed their majority on council a decade ago.

"You can't get nine people together and think that everybody's going to have the same way of going about things. But we all have the same vision of where we want to go," said Leslie Ghiz, a challenger from Hyde Park.

Barrett said this year's Republican ticket is diverse - including two African-Americans and two women, from all parts of town - and holds diverse views.

But party platforms in Cincinnati politics have been historically hard to develop because of the nature of the electoral system. Because everyone is running for one of nine at-large seats, there is competition for name recognition.

The "top vote-getter" system of electing a mayor, abolished with the 2001 direct mayor election, also turned council candidates into free agents, scrambling to win more votes than anyone else.

The chairmen of the Democratic and Charter committees said Sunday that they had not developed platforms or "common goals" - if only because their slates of endorsements are incomplete.


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