Testimony of Andrew Linn of Columbus Socialist Alternative

Dec. 4, 2018

I’m a member of Columbus Socialist Alternative and I’m here today to urge city council to vote NO on the $12,707 campaign limit and instead delay the vote and establish reasonable campaign limits that will hold our council accountable to working people and not just wealthy corporations and developers. I see no reason why city council can’t put forward an amendment to lower the limit to something more reasonable.

An issue that keeps coming up in our city is housing – city council has spent lots of time talking about housing, making minor changes to tax abatement requirements and working to decrease the already exorbitant amount of evictions in this city, but a city council awash in thousands from corporate real estate developers is only capable of putting a bandaid on the problem. Today, countless working people are struggling to pay for housing and the basic necessities of life. While plenty of luxury apartments are being built in previously affordable neighborhoods, our city council in Columbus remains beholden to big developers who line their pockets with campaign money.

This is why people want elected officials who are accountable to working people, not to the big developers. Some of our city council members have received thousands in donations from Columbus Apartment Association, Columbus Realty Investment, the Central Ohio Realtors PAC, and the Pizzuti PAC, which is affiliated with one of the largest corporate developers in the city. Pizzuti has
received millions in tax abatements from city council in recent years but has also failed to deliver on job promises.

Instead of passing any meaningful campaign finance reform, Mayor Ginther has announced a ridiculous individual donor limit of $12,707, stooping to the same level as Republicans in the state legislature who established the same limit for themselves. This is a clear attempt to quell the rising pushback against corporatebought, establishment politicians, while allowing those same politicians to remain in power.

$12,707 is eighteen months of rent in the average Columbus neighborhood. Everyday people can’t afford that, especially in a city whose cost of living is steadily increasing. But to the wealthy developers, that is pocket change. Instead of passing milquetoast policies, we should be taxing those developers and establishing rent control while funding publicly-owned, permanently affordable housing. With rents rising 3.4% every year, we can’t rely on quick fix solutions that protect the interests of the big developers.

We need to fight for a city that pays a living wage, fully funds social services, and provides affordable housing, and we cannot depend on establishment politicians to make these kinds of bold changes when they are taking $12,000 donations from the wealthiest in our city.

Next Monday, this city council will choose whether or not they listen to the people and work towards campaign finance reform that is actually effective or meaningful. When the final vote is taken on this, working people will take note of who stands with us and who stands with the corporate developers.