Collaboration is needed with Ohio’s General Assembly to address issues like gun violence, workforce development and housing in Ohio’s cities, a group of mayors from across the region and state said Tuesday at a meeting in Dayton.
Members of the Ohio Mayors Alliance — a bipartisan coalition of mayors in 30 of Ohio’s largest cities — met with area lawmakers on Tuesday to talk about the issues that face their home cities.
The alliance’s second-annual meeting with state lawmakers took place at the Dayton Arcade on West Fourth Street.
“We discussed today that there are things all of our cities are dealing with, and we’re dealing with them in different ways,” said State Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton.
Leaders from Dayton, Beavercreek, Fairfield, Kettering and Huber Heights attended Tuesday’s meeting, as well as mayors from cities like Columbus, Youngstown, Lancaster and Athens.
Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. said he and mayors from across the state discussed the impact of gun violence on their communities. He pointed to the recent fourth anniversary of the Oregon District shooting.
“When you start thinking about the pain, the tragedy, it’s not just because of the ones who may have lost their lives,” he said. “But also the families and loved ones left behind.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in his community, less than 500 people are committing more than half of the violent crimes.
“I’ve spoken about this with several colleagues, and I’ve spoken to the governor about this as well, the issue of weapons under disability,” he said. “Some changes in state law could give use the ability to prosecute that very small number of folks and protect our neighborhoods.”
Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said gun violence presents itself differently in urban versus rural spaces, but universally communities want to protect their youth and families.
“We want their safety,” he said. “Today, we realize that we all want to get to the same place. And that’s to make sure our communities are safe and healthy.”
Mims said Dayton has enacted several changes to improve public safety, including changes to its police force like new technology to help officers identify weapons, de-escalation training being implemented in the police force and efforts to diversify policing in the city. These changes were partly a result of five committees that were formed by the city for police reform.
But legislation and collaboration with the state are necessary for further change, Mims said.
“It’s always important to understand how we make great things happen because of partnerships,” he said.
State Rep. Tim Barhorst, R-Fort Loramie, said the mid-sized cities in his region, including Urbana, have other challenges that mirror that of larger cities, such as workforce development.
“We all have a workforce issue. Everybody needs more qualified and able workers,” he said. “And we all need more housing.”
Collaboration is needed between federal, state and local governments, said State. Rep. Adam Mathews, R-Lebanon, whose district covers Warren County.
“Having these conversations in an open way, having a look at where we can challenge each other… it all helps,” he said.