Cover Story: On Their Own

Independent council candidates offer more choices

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Hal McKinney says more police would increase safety.

In addition to candidates endorsed by the Democratic and Republican parties and the Greater Cincinnati Charter Committee, at least six people besides Brian Garry are running for city council as independents.

Hal McKinney
Hal McKinney's claim to fame is stopping a robbery at Junker's, a bar in Northside. He shot and wounded the suspect May 8, but a grand jury declined to indict McKinney. A resident of Northside, he has since been dedicated to stopping crime, especially youth crime. One of the main reasons that people are leaving the city is because they're frightened, he says.

"If you're not safe, nothing else matters," he says.

If there were other activities for youth, there wouldn't be such a high crime rate, according to McKinney.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, he believes one way to increase safety is through a larger police force. McKinney proposes an auxiliary force of 400 to serve as beat officers in troubled areas. He also thinks more volunteers in programs such as Citizens on Patrol would be beneficial.

Accountability is the most important quality for city council members, McKinney says.

Leaders should be able to answer to the citizens, he says.

He also believes that private business in the city needs to be encouraged.

Glenn O. Givens
Glenn O. Givens is an independent Democrat who says the city is in need of good leadership. At age 78, he says he's watched the deterioration of morals, which he attributes to the city being led by the rich and powerful.

"This city is not going to survive until they (citizens) recognize the fight is between the rich and powerful versus the working poor and people in destitution," he says. "The rich keep getting richer, and nobody wants to talk about it."

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Givens attended Cincinnati Public Schools. He is a member of the Rainbow Coalition founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Givens considers himself a centrist Democrat not buried in any right or left ideology. As a Democrat, he has the right to call things as he sees them, he says.

Givens says he's waiting to hear if the Democratic Party will endorse him.

"I don't need their endorsement," he says. "They need mine. If I can get my thoughts out to the voters and they believe in my thoughts, I will be elected. I won't be a rubber stamp for those that want to use me for their purposes."

Givens says he's against any form of racism, regardless of to whom it's directed.

"A black bigot is no better than a white bigot," he says.

He's also opposed to privatization of public services. Givens argues that the wealthy use race and religion in the city as a mode of destruction.

If elected, Givens wants to work for district elections for city council. He says that method — rather than citywide elections — will keep certain neighborhoods from dominating.

Givens is just one more example of why stereotypes aren't always correct. He is energetic and stalwart. Perhaps for this reason, his age is not an issue, according to Givens.

"The only issue anyone has in life is the expectancy of death," he says. "Age should never be a barrier on a reasonable thinking person."

Marilyn Hyland
Marilyn Hyland has been in the business of making community for 30 years. On city council, she would like to use this experience to help make the city work.

Hyland, who works in marketing communication development, believes it's important that Cincinnati have a thriving downtown. She'd like Cincinnati to be a place that youth want to come back to and a place that people enjoy living in.

Hyland says the city should work with neighborhood councils, historical societies and banks to create incentives for fixing up neighborhoods.

On the issue of safety, she believes communities should take some responsibility. She has hosted an all-Clifton Block Watch bash and would like to establish an annual block watch party in every neighborhood.

"When you know each other, you look out for each other," she says.

Although Hyland had hoped to receive the endorsement of the Democratic Party, she says she's running as an independent because she finds the endorsement of every citizen more important.

Hyland was the Democratic candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner in 1998, unsuccessfully running against Commissioner Tom Neyer Jr.

Eric Wilson
Eric Wilson is another Democrat running as an independent. He, too, was born and raised here, a third-generation Cincinnatian.

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in political science, he's also a law school graduate.

Wilson says he's willing to take the strong stances that have been lacking in the city. Cincinnati needs someone who will acknowledge the problems in the city yet still represent everybody, he says.

"I will acknowledge the 800-pound elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about," he says.

A disparity of treatment is among Cincinnati's biggest problems, he says. He believes baseball has a history of fairness that's not present in other institutions.

"In baseball, the rules apply to everyone," Wilson says. "When you beat the tag, you're safe. Three strikes, you're out."

Ensuring equal treatment for all is the key to support for the police, according to Wilson.

"It's important to realize that it is the police patrolling at 3 a.m.," he says. "It's not the media and not politicians. Law and order is our backbone."

It's hard for officers to enforce the law when the community is mad at them, Wilson says.

He also thinks it's important to have a balance between downtown development and neighborhood development.

NOTE: Independent candidates William Kirkland and Toni Andrews could not be reached in time for this story. Kirkland is an active supporter of the civil rights boycott of Cincinnati. Andrews publishes The Citizen Report, a community newspaper. Both unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2001.

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