Since taking office in 2000, Mayor Michael B. Coleman has built Columbus’ reputation as one of the best cities in the nation by building stronger, safer neighborhoods and creating jobs by maintaining a high quality of life. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the nation, the largest city in Ohio and among the only growing cities in the Midwest.
“It’s probably true,” the New York Times Magazine’s Matt Bai wrote in September of 2012, “that states rise and fall with the national economy. But it’s also true that a state or a city can make choices that enable it to ride out the economic lows and then take advantage when times get better. And to the extent that Columbus is leading Ohio’s economic rebound, and to the extent that Coleman was able to make hard choices that kept the city moving forward, he probably deserves as much credit as any other Ohio politician.”
Time Magazine’s Rana Foroohar wrote in October of 2012, “After taking a dive during the recession, Columbus has roared back, with the metro area creating more new jobs than any other city in Ohio over the past two years. In many ways, it's a model for what an economy can do when you admit that growth isn't about tax cuts and austerity but about both streamlining government and investing public money in the right things.”
Under Mayor Coleman’s leadership, the City of Columbus has been recently recognized by the Intelligent Communities Forum as the smartest city in the nation and the 7th smartest city in the world, by American City Business Journals for having the 4th best economy in the nation, by Forbes as the best city in the country for working mothers, by NewGeography.com and the Milken Institute as the best big city in the Midwest for job growth, and by Fox News, Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the top 10 cities in the nation for college graduates. Columbus has also recently been recognized as one of the 10 best large cites and one of the 10 most affordable metro areas by RelocateAmerica. It was recognized as the nation’s 8th best place to live by CNN and Money magazine, which also declared Columbus as the nation’s safest big city. Underwriters Laboratories, a respected independent product safety certification organization, ranked Columbus second in its 2010 Safest Cities for Families with Young Children. In addition, Columbus continues to earn top rankings for its stable housing market, affordability, and as a top city for African-Americans, young professionals, and members of the GLBT community.
Mayor Coleman has presided over a strong economic recovery in Columbus that has reverberated throughout the state. Mayor Coleman has leveraged incentives to create more than 39,000 jobs and bring $6.9 billion in private investment to Columbus throughout his tenure. Growing companies enjoy an educated workforce from 18 regional colleges and universities. Columbus is centrally located to national markets and a growing transportation, distribution, logistics and retail hub.
Mayor Coleman has made public safety his top priority, dedicating 70 percent of his General Operating Fund to police and fire protection. As a result, Columbus is the safest big city in Ohio, and violent crimes have gone down in Columbus during the mayor’s tenure, even as its population has increased. Columbus has reduced violence though aggressive enforcement through innovative programs such as Summer Strike Force, Community Response Teams and the Neighborhood Safety Camera Pilot Program, leading to arrests and a reduction in criminal activity. The city’s APPS program has brought thousands of teens and young adults into Columbus recreation centers in its first summer while intervening with gang members and deterring youth violence.
In December, Mayor Coleman created the Columbus Education Commission, a diverse panel of 25 individuals from every sector of the community, including the school board, City Council, labor, parents, pastors, civic leaders and business leaders. Mayor Coleman charged the Education Commission with examining the challenges and opportunities facing children living within the Columbus City Schools district, from preschool to career. The Commission unanimously issued a set of recommendations in April to increase access to quality pre-K education, technology in the classroom, good teachers and principals and good schools in all Columbus neighborhoods.
Mayor Coleman initiated Neighborhood Pride, a proactive effort to engage residents and businesses to fix up thousands of homes and clean up their neighborhoods. The mayor’s Pay as We Grow annexation policy requires developers to bear the costs of extending water, sewer and electricity. Under Mayor Coleman’s leadership, Columbus has reinvested in older Columbus neighborhoods such as Franklinton, American Addition, the Southern Gateway, Weinland Park, the King Lincoln District, South of Livingston, Northland and South Linden.
The mayor has embarked on a four-year effort to substantially impact the number of vacant, abandoned and blighted houses through a comprehensive initiative to demolish at least 900 houses beyond repair and rehab those that can be saved. In 2006, Mayor Coleman created the Home Again program, impacting more than 1,000 vacant and abandoned homes. In 2001, Mayor Coleman created the Affordable Housing Trust Corporation to provide more housing options to inner-city residents.
Mayor Coleman worked with business leaders to start a massive Downtown revitalization initiative. Since 2002 more than 5,500 new apartments and condos have been built or are under development, a new Downtown park system is being designed, 3,000 jobs have been moved into Downtown, and there has been more than $2.18 billion in new investment. Two new award-winning Downtown parks, Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons brought more than 400,000 visitors Downtown in their first summer.
Mayor Coleman has a proven record of balancing budgets and reforming government. Columbus is the only large city in the nation to maintain an AAA credit rating from all three major rating agencies. Mayor Coleman and City Council exceeded their promise to taxpayers by taking steps that will save more than $212 million over 10 years by getting employee benefits in line with the market while reducing unnecessary overtime, increasing the use of technology and making the city more energy efficient.
Columbus has made tremendous strides protecting the environment under Mayor Coleman, who created the ongoing Get Green Columbus campaign. The mayor has made a commitment to improving energy efficiency in older city facilities while requiring that every new city construction project be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Mayor is transforming Columbus into a major bike-centered city through the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan. In 2008 Mayor Coleman created the GreenSpot program to inspire, educate and recognize residents and businesses making efforts to protect our environment. The mayor established the city’s first comprehensive residential recycling program for single-family homes. The mayor’s Division of Fleet Management has been recognized as the greenest on the continent by 100 Best Fleets and as the second best overall in North America.
Mayor Coleman was first elected in 1999 and was re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011. He was born on November 18, 1954. He has three children, Kimberly, a banker; Justin, a Columbus police officer; and John-David, a graduate of the Ohio State University. Prior to becoming mayor, Coleman served as President of Columbus City Council from January of 1997 to November of 1999, and as a council member from February of 1992 to December of 1999. Coleman graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 with a degree in Political Science and earned his law degree from the University of Dayton Law School in 1980.