Dissent is healthy on city council


To the editor:

As one of 14 candidates on the ballot for seven city council seats come Nov. 3, I have been asked a number of times, “What is your platform?”

Three words: infrastructure and economy. We need to update the former and build up the latter, a process that can go hand in hand. State revenue assistance to cities continues to dry up, and the tax base in a community in which 47 percent of the property isn’t taxable and roughly a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line needs to be broadened.

We have the creative minds in Oberlin to make that happen.

For 18 months, I have spent an hour almost every week talking to people in town about what makes Oberlin special, or special enough for them to care about working on cultivating it. I have done that only for the reason of understanding what makes Oberlin work.

I have talked to ministers and members of the business community, young adults of Oberlin volunteering their time to help those in need elsewhere, adults who have come back to town to help those in need in Oberlin, people who have moved here temporarily only to find out they want to stay, at least one current elected city official and one former elected New Russia Township official, as well as community event planners of every stripe (e.g. the Big Parade and Juneteenth).

Many of those interviews are online at ohoberlin.wordpress.com.

The similar question has been, “What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Oberlin?”

I have most often answered “communication,” but I don’t want that to be misunderstood as suggesting that council members should all be “on the same page.”

For 20 years, I have worked in community newspapers. One of my biggest irritations has been the suggestion that dissent somehow lessened a council’s decision. Different viewpoints are absolutely necessary context to decision-making.

What is your platform Oberlin?

Peter Comings