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Public safety expected to top the list of issues discussed at US Mayors Conference in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio skyline
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Columbus is gearing up to host the 91st Annual Meeting of the 2023 U.S. Conference of Mayors June 2-5.

Mayor Andrew Ginther expects several hundred mayors from across the country to talk about the important issues of the day.

“We're excited about the future and thrilled to welcome them to Columbus, learn from them, share some of the things that we're working on and continue to move our country forward,” says Mayor Ginther.

Ginther says safety and security lead the list of issues that will be discussed.

He says his efforts in the Short North, ordering food trucks and carts to close at midnight and enforcing tighter parking restrictions are working to stop violence.

“Our officers have done an incredible job with positive, proactive enforcement,” says Ginther. “Many folks have stepped up and closed early to protect themselves and the neighborhood. I think it's been a resounding success.”

Ginther says the program called “Operation Burnout” in the Short North will move to other neighborhoods throughout the summer to keep streets safer.

“The last couple of years, more children in America, per the CDC, died from gun violence than automobile accidents for the first time in the history of America,” says Ginther. “And so that is a crisis. And we need to do everything in our power to deal with it as a public health crisis.”

Ginther says many mayors agree that they need to use their authority to make their communities safer, despite efforts by conservatives in state legislatures to loosen gun restrictions.

“We need safe storage laws,” says Ginther. “We need red flag laws. We need universal background checks. And I would support an assault weapon ban because we saw a huge success in the decrease in violence with respect to assault weapons between 1994 and 2004. We know what we need to do.”

Other issues up for discussion during the conference include mental health, economic development and job creation.

“We're not into, you know, ideology and, you know, the far right or the far left,” says Ginther. “We're interested in looking at evidence and making decisions that will make folks safer. So that's one of the things we’ll be focused on.”

Ginther says Columbus grew by about 100,000 people in the last U.S. Census. He thinks the city may double that growth in the next 15 years.

“I view Columbus as a perfect example of what I think cities across America and that are, you know, that is the laboratory for innovation, creativity and development,” says Ginther. “I mean, cities are where that type of work is taking place like nowhere else in America.”

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.