COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther will hold his annual State of the City address on Thursday night at the Columbus Police Academy.
Ahead of the mayor’s address, several local organizations are holding a prayer rally and march from Hope City House of Prayer to the academy on Hague Avenue.
According to a Facebook event page for the prayer rally, the local organizations are calling for justice for Henry Green and Tyre King, two men killed in officer-involved shootings in Columbus.
Ginther will focus largely on neighborhoods and public safety in his State of the City speech Thursday evening.
Since taking office Ginther has stressed the goal of advancing shared prosperity – finding ways to allow all residents to share in the rewards of the growth and opportunities in Columbus. He will continue that theme in his speech at the Columbus Police Academy.
To read a copy of the mayor’s speech, click here: PDF: 2017 Final State of the City Address
Bill Huffman, who has lived his whole life in the Hilltop, hopes the mayor has big plans for his neighborhood.
“The city needs to look at it differently than they look at Linden or Clintonville or Victorian Village or Italian Village,” Huffman said. “All those other entities are prospering and doing well. The Hilltop has just not been there and we’re looking forward to seeing what the mayor presents in his package for the Hilltop.”
Huffman, a manager with the nonprofit Friends of the Hilltop, remembers what it was like before all the vacant storefronts. He knows what’s needed to turn things around.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs, that’s what we’re suffering from,” Huffman said.
During his State of the City speech last year, Ginther committed $37 million dollars to infrastructure improvements in the Hilltop.
Huffman says infrastructure improvements will be the foundation for a neighborhood turnaround. But, he says, the area needs help from the city convincing investors to take the risk of bringing new businesses to the Hilltop.
The mayor will also update several other key priorities of his administration including infant mortality, early childhood education and outfitting the city’s police force with body cameras.
Ginther will also formally announce that the city will make the police department’s summer safety initiative a year-round program with officers concentrating on areas of high crime.
Other new initiatives will include a civilian safety patrol pilot program. Residents will receive training and then patrol their neighborhoods while in direct contact with police.
92-year-old Charles Fields lives in the American Addition neighborhood just east of Linden. Fields says his neighborhood has been trouble-free but he believes police could improve their relationship in some other neighborhoods. “It’s easy,” Fields says. “Communicate. Stop and talk and learn who the people are in the neighborhood. Then you can learn who you can go to, and if you have trouble, you know who can back you up.”