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  • Doug Smith

League of Women Voters Questionnaire (Unabridged)

The League of Women Voters publishes an Election Guide with responses from each candidate. The responses are limited so candidates must be concise, sometimes leaving out important contextual information. Below are my unabridged responses to the League's questionnaire.

· What are your constituents top needs and how would you address those issues?

Density is the biggest issue in the foreseeable future.

There are individuals who want to change Worthington fundamentally.

The problem is some high-profit apartment developers want to do their way with no regard to our community. Unfortunately, if the residents elect the wrong people to council this year, it is very possible a new council will open the doors to high-profit, high-density developers.

This impacts every area of Worthington.

Colonial Hills has several locations that are targeted. An almost-certain high-density proposal will happen at the Boundless property. Other locations include: next to Park Blvd Park and at the Colonial Hills Elementary site if the school district decides to knock it down and sell it off.

West of the river, there are several target development areas - like Olentangy River Road, Potter’s Creek and Linworth. High-density developers already built hundreds of units across the tracks in Columbus and it’s working for them.

In Wilson Hill and Northeast Worthington, we already had apartment builders approach us to build high-density HUD complexes.

There are local architects and planners, commercial brokers, city council candidates and even city council members who stand to gain professionally and financially from this density-based paradigm shift.

NCR’s Hartford project recently came online next to the library. Even though they sold the concept to the community as affordable housing for seniors, they are now charging $3,300 to $6,000 per month for rent. Council approved that. I voted no.

East Wilson Bridge Road zoning changed from residential to commercial so that approximately 20 residential homes became a non-conforming use, impacting more than 50 homes in the neighborhood. Council approved that. I voted no.

These voices are small in number but well-funded by outside interests - and even folks in the community who fundamentally and philosophically believe we must change Worthington because it’s broken. They believe in “fixing” Worthington’s future.

· Given your city/village/township's fiscal responsibilities, how would you fund your primary goals?

Worthington’s city budget is very healthy. We have a AAA bonding rating, which only 5 percent of municipalities ever obtain. We have the second largest revenue stream of all the cities in Ohio with less than 25,000 people. We have a well-thought-out infrastructure that can only handle a few hundred more units spread throughout the city.

Another goal is to advance sustainability initiatives by hiring a Sustainability Manager on city staff. This will save residents money, capture federal and state funding for projects, and help Worthington continue to be a regional leader for sustainability issues.

The person hired for this position can work on the many of the following initiatives:

  • building strategic coalitions at the regional level

  • updating city building codes to support green building and mitigate runoff

  • capturing federal and regional funds coming from the infrastructure bills and inflation reduction act grant writing for sustainability-focused programs

  • helping residents navigate residential sustainability incentives

  • work with businesses to save on energy costs

  • additional initiatives

Some members of Council do not support hiring a Sustainability Manager, citing budget concerns and bad timing.

· Central Ohio continues to experience a large population growth. How do you propose to address needed changes to infrastructure and housing options in your community based on this increase in populations?

Worthington housing has been one of the hottest in the nation since 2014. That accompanied with limited space to build and limited additional capacity in infrastructure forces us to be thoughtful and selective when determining additional housing projects. I like the idea of allowing accessory dwelling units on residential properties as one way to enable additional responsible housing.

I oppose the idea of high-density housing, especially from high-profit developers.

Due to the market forces, there are two ways to attract residential projects to Worthington. The first is to allow high-density housing, or public housing that is funded through government programs. I oppose these types of projects.

The second is to help offset construction costs for a select number of appropriate housing projects that are consistent with neighborhood character. I support this if done in a limited and controlled way - like redevelopment of underused properties.

Philosophically, I believe Worthington can help in a small way as long as new housing projects enhance the community and have low impact on neighborhoods, school population and infrastructure.

Some candidates for this election are promoting high-density apartments at all costs. We must consider the real impacts of their philosophies. If my opponents are successful, you will likely see an increase of high-density housing that will change the fundamental character and charm of Worthington.

· What is your relationship and history with the neighborhood area where you are running?

I have been serving Worthington residents on Council for 12 years, and served on the Community Improvement Corporation for nine years as the Vice Chair.

I moved to Worthington in 2006 and have been a small Business Owner since 2007.

My family (wife and four children ages 2, 5, 8, 13) lives in the Old Worthington / Wilson Hill neighborhood.

I brought residents and small businesses the renewable energy aggregation program, which has saved - and will continue to save - the average resident and small business owner thousands of dollars on their electric bill while using 100% wind-generated energy.

· What, if any, steps should be taken to increase safety in your community?

Worthington’s safety services are high-quality. Our police and fire departments are readily available to help the public. I supported a new fire department leader who focuses on preventative safety and senior well-being check-ins. When residents contact me with concerns about safety, I always make sure the police force responds with appropriate action, including speed enforcement, car break-in patrol, and more.

For residents, the city provides timely street snow removal and walkability for safe mobility. I have proposed a program for the city to pay for replacements to uneven sidewalks and sidewalk gaps.


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