Voter Guide

If you care about the issue of homelessness it is crucial that you vote on November 5th! The results of these elections will shape the local response to homelessness including funding for shelters and social services, support for students experiencing homelessness and criminalization of survival activities like camping and panhandling. Please use the voter guide below as you make your decisions about which candidates get your vote.

If you have questions about voter registration or casting a ballot, visit www.VoteOhio.gov or call the Board of Elections at 614-525-3100.

2019 Voter Guide

October 7– last day to register for the 2019 General Election
October 8 – Early in-person and absentee voting begins
November 5 – Election Day!

We gave the same prompt each candidate in the races below and have shared all responses verbatim.

Prompt: Central Ohio has a growing population of people experiencing homelessness including many children and families. The survival activities that sometimes accompany homelessness are stigmatized and often criminalized. Examples include living outside in camps, spending extended time in public spaces and panhandling. The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless is concerned with this pattern of criminalization, particularly the repeated displacement and destruction of camps despite a shortage of viable housing alternatives. Please share your perspective on the rights of people experiencing homelessness to survive and the ways in which you will work to protect those rights, if elected.

For Columbus City Council

Columbus City Council consists of seven at-large members representing more than 850,000 residents and are elected to serve a four-year term. Voters in the 2019 General Election can vote for no more than four candidates from the list below to fill the four open seats.

Liliana Rivera Baiman

With the wealth of resources available to Columbus, it should be our goal to ensure that no one experiences homelessness. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to achieve this goal. I recently worked with a homeless Columbus resident who was facing deportation. After successfully helping him get permission to stay in Columbus, it was incredibly challenging to secure housing or medical care he needed. We can do better! My campaign has proposed concrete policy initiatives to tackle some of the root causes of homelessness, including raising the minimum wage, stronger public schools, new affordable housing requirements, stronger tenants’ rights, treating the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis, and a municipal ID. For residents who are experiencing homelessness, we should be directing our resources at providing them expanded services, not criminalizing their activities. I am strongly opposed to harassment of our homeless residents with destruction of camps and criminalizing them petty offenses like panhandling and loitering. My career in organizing has taught me the importance of listening to the people doing the work. As a City Council member, I will work alongside your coalition and other partners to enact a bill of rights for homeless residents of Columbus.

Elizabeth Brown

Homeless individuals deserve the same rights to survival as anyone else. This is not just because often forces bigger than themselves have compelled their circumstances, but also because every person deserves recognition and dignity.

In Columbus, there is a lack of sufficient affordable housing, and in many cases this contributes to homelessness. I have fought for more resources to go towards affordable housing development and stronger rapid rehousing options, so that as few people as possible will become homeless. I will continue to fight for these and to pursue more pathways to safeguard against the de facto criminalization of homelessness that still exists in Columbus.

Columbus is a vibrant city with a tremendous future, but we have real work ahead to break down the barriers of poverty and level the playing field so everyone can succeed. As a current Councilmember who was born and raised in Central Ohio, I have a record of accomplishment. Not only have I passed critical legislation like an overhaul of our incentive policies and housing assistance for pregnant women, but I have also worked to deliver excellent constituent services and outreach efforts. The opportunity to continue this work is why I’m running for reelection.

Rob Dorans

For nearly a decade I have been an active pro bono volunteer with the Columbus Legal Aid Society at various homeless shelters in Columbus. I’ve worked with hundreds of men, women, and families that were facing homelessness in our community. While the reasons for folks finding their ways to a shelter differ, the issues facing them are often very similar. One issue that those facing housing instability have consistently faced is evictions. I’m pleased that Columbus City Council is working with the Columbus Women’s Commission, the Municipal Court, and other partners on initiatives to reduce evictions and create a pathway for sealing past court cases. This will reduce the burden that those with evictions on their records face when seeking future housing. While there is no single solution for homeless in our community, its incumbent on the City to treat people with respect and create a more equitable community in the future.

Shayla D. Favor

As the Chair of Housing, I’m committed to fighting for legislation that protects basic civil rights, which include the decriminalization homelessness and removing barriers to employment opportunities.

Joe Motil

I personally am not aware of any extremely large homeless camps in Columbus. Unless there is truly a viable safe alternative to remove one from their camp and the person is willing to leave then of course they should. If their camp site is kept in a relatively hazardous free and sanitary condition, they should be free to stay there. Street outreach workers and advocates could help by providing trash bags and the city could locate porta toilets in city parks to help. Checking up on their physical and mental health and travel assistance to health facilities should also be provided. The small tent cities also allow for social workers to know where their clients are located to better serve them as opposed to removing camps and them moving around more freely and disappearing. Criminalizing a homeless victim is an immoral act which only worsens their situation as would be overturning one’s camp without first seeking to allow that person to gather their belongings and help them with relocation. Compassion and educating the public on our homeless population is essential. I would always support city funding and look for ways to increase it.

Emmanuel Remy

Hello, I am Emmanuel V. Remy and I am a member of Columbus City Council. I want to thank you all for what you do. Persons experiencing homelessness can never have enough representation. As a member of council, community leader, and Realtor by trade, housing is at the forefront of my mind every day. There are several reasons a person may be experiencing homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing and living wage jobs, shift in the economy, domestic violence, and yes – mental health and substance abuse. Because of these factors and many more, I believe private, non-profit, and public entities should continue to collaborate but do so more aggressively to mitigate the factors that lead to homelessness.

I believe in protecting the rights of every person I serve, especially the disenchanted. As a member of council I will continue to advocate, support and vote to support services and funding to assist our homeless community. I stand behind our local shelters and believe in strengthening city funded grants, including the Emergency Solutions Grant, HOPWA, Affordable Housing, and Down Payment Assistance, which the city is currently budgeting for 2020. I continue to thank you for all that you do!

Scott Singratsomboune

We need to do more. The long-term solution is to support our education system, which would help some families from falling into homelessness. In the short-term, some of the city’s affordable housing budget should be used to help homeless families—although that’s not currently part of the city’s plan. Instead, the city is focusing resources on families making between $60,000 and $80,000. Homeless camps are a tough issue because health hazards are multiplied when large groups live together. The city should help reduce these hazards. We should also leverage community groups and non-profit organizations to develop new solutions for the growing number of homeless families in Columbus.

The city should help homeless families apply for resources such as veteran’s disability, social security, and other entitlements. These programs are laborious and particularly burdensome for some homeless families. The city should listen closely to homeless families because their experiences will help us create solutions that work.

Tiffany White

Response pending


For Columbus City Board of Education

Voters will be asked to vote for up to five candidates for school board.

Jennifer Adair

No response provided

Carol Beckerle

No response provided

Eric S. Brown

Response pending

Kimberley Mason

No response provided

Tina Pierce

Everyone should have the same rights and protections under the law. Criminalization measures that punish homelessness and life-sustaining activities are counterproductive to ending homelessness. Homelessness can have a tremendous impact on our children, families, educators, and staff at anytime. We need housing solutions to address homelessness not measures of criminalization. As a board member, I will advocate for rapid re-housing solutions that help families and individuals with housing searches, financial assistance, and case management services to help them quickly transition out of shelters/streets and back into housing of their own. I will also advocate for transitional housing, permanent rental assistance, and permanent supportive housing to assist those needing long-term solutions (i.e. low-income, LGBTQIA, overcoming mental and/or substance use disorder).

Stephany R. Small

No response provided

James C. Ragland

No response provided

 


For Franklin County Judge of Municipal Court

Voters will be asked to select one of the candidates from the list below.

Trent A. Dougherty

Municipal Court is truly the People’s Court, and a judge in that court should have a people-centered approach to justice. I believe that anyone who appears before the court in any capacity should have their individual rights respected and their voice heard. This approach is even more important for our homeless brothers and sisters here in Central Ohio, who are usually unrepresented and whose homelessness is one of many underlying reasons that bring them before the court. Therefore, to ensure justice for those individuals, a judge must look to the why a defendant is before the court, not just focusing on what was done. Similarly, this County is blessed with specialty dockets that provide assistance to those who find themselves before the court due to drug addiction, or are confronting mental health issues (especially Veterans), or victims of trafficking. The opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to access these specialty dockets should be encouraged and greatly expanded. When done with compassion and respect, I feel that a judge in the Municipal Court can help change the trajectory of people’s lives – providing them the dignity and respect they deserve while benefiting our entire community at the same time.

Jodi Thomas

I am the presiding Judge over the h.a.r.t program, (Helping Achieve Recovery Together), which is the opiate specific drug court operated by the Franklin County Municipal Court. My experience as the drug court judge and the 14 plus years as an attorney with the Franklin County Public Defender’s Office, I have witnessed first-hand the manner in which substance abuse, addiction, criminal convictions, and homelessness are related; that helping with addiction recovery often includes securing safe, stable, and affordable housing. It is all too familiar to come face to face with an individual struggling with addiction, homelessness, and a complete lack of hope. I treat this person with the respect and dignity that they deserve and I work to find a solution that can help them take a step in the right direction. I address negative stigmas and break down barriers by replacing them with resources and support. My goal, as a judge, has been and will always be to continue to fight for the equal protection of everyone’s rights who appear before me, regardless of their income or position in life.


For Franklin County Judge of Municipal Court

Voters will be asked to select one of the candidates from the list below.

Jessica D’Varga

Cannon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct prevents a judicial candidate from answering questions that may be perceived as undermining a candidate’s independence or impartiality. While a judge cannot address issues directly impacting homelessness such as affordable housing, unemployment, or poverty, I would ensure that anyone coming into my courtroom who is experiencing homelessness would be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Because individuals with mental health and addiction issues and Veterans are at a higher risk for experiencing homelessness, I will ensure that they are connected with whatever services the court may be able to provide. This could be accomplished through the four specialty/recovery dockets that are currently offered in Municipal Court. The court should also establish lines of communication and cooperation with local organizations that assist those struggling with homelessness. I am committed to helping the people who appear in front of me get the assistance that they need and deserve and to building relationships with organizations within the community that can help me reach that goal.

Amy Salerno

No response provided