Election 2019: Council candidates discuss transparency in police, city

The Columbus Police Department was recently the target of an open records complaint by the former mayor. Both the state public access counselor and the judge ruled against the city.

We asked the candidates for Columbus City Council in next week’s election if there a problem with transparency in the police department or across city government?

The race in City Council District 1 pits incumbent Republican Dascal Bunch against Democrat Jerone Wood and independent Michael Kinder.

Bunch said that he sees the problem as being one where different officers fill out paperwork differently. That has been corrected.

Wood said that he thinks the city needs to do a better job showing the public how it is being transparent.

Kinder said he thinks the city should be following the laws on what can be shared.


Elaine Wagner, the incumbent Democrat in City Council District 2 is running for re-election against Republican Jim Hartsook.

Wagner says the dispute took too long to settle and it cost too much. .

Hartsook said the city needs an electronic retention policy for its records.

In City Council District 3, incumbent Republican Dave Bush is facing Democrat Katea Ravega.

Bush said the city takes care to follow all the laws on open meetings and records.

Ravega said that as a health care attorney she has filed many open records requests and they can be hard for agencies to process.

Frank Miller, the incumbent Republican in City Council District 4 is running for re-election against Democrat  Michael Schoumacher.

Miller said in the recent case, the city police were still in the investigative phase, where records are not yet public.

Schoumacher said the city has a perception problem with transparency that he would like to address

In City Council District 5, incumbent Republican Tim Shuffett is facing Ross Thomas, a Democrat.

Shuffett said that city is doing more than most communities to ensure transparency.

Thomas said that as an attorney, the first response should be to follow the law and to err on the side of being open..

In the four-way race for the two at-large seats on the council, incumbent Republican Laurie Booher and Democrat Tom Dell are running against Republican Josh Burnett and Democrat Grace Kestler.

Booher said she believes in the value of being open to the public.

Dell said that police thought they were following proper procedures.

Burnett said that personal issues should not be part of the open records decision making

Kestler said the city needs to better communicate with the public.