Chris Seelbach is a candidate for Cincinnati City Council and, to the best of my knowledge, the only candidate who resides in Over-the-Rhine*. This OTRview expresses his personal views and positions as a resident and candidate for City Council. All candidates for city council are welcome to participate in OTRviews. If you or someone you know (political or otherwise) would like to give an OTRview, contact us.
Thank you, Chris, for participating. Enjoy:
You appreciate Over-the-Rhine. When did you first learn about and/or experience OTR? How has your perception of it changed since your first impression? Was it love at first sight?
Love at first sight. The buildings, the character, the people, everything.
I came to first experience OTR while studying at Xavier almost 13 years ago. I bought my first house, a condo in OTR, in 2004. My parents had the “are you insane” moment for wanting to not only live in OTR, but purchase my first home there!
The first couple of years my car was broken into almost every other month (glass breakage was a must on my car insurance policy!). The only business within a block was a seedy “coffee shop” in the storefront of our building. We never went in. We’re not sure if it actually even sold coffee.
But what a different a couple years (and many risk-taking developers, business owners and residents) make! OTR is still growing and there are many challenges ahead, but both Vine and Main streets are filled with thriving business and mixed-income housing that can’t be renovated, rented or bought fast enough. Cool, fun restaurants are popping up everywhere. They call 5th Street restaurant row? Have they seen Vine Street between 12th and 13th? That’s restaurant row to me!
You’re a candidate for City Council. Why are you running? What’s your vision for the city?
I’m running for City Council to focus on creating a city more people want to live, work and raise a family in. To not get caught up in the issue de jour, whether it’s pools, recreation center, police, yard waste or recycling. All of those are very important part of the quality of life of our City and it’s residents, but none of the discussions focus on the real probIem: a 10% drop in population in the last 10 years and 30-60 million dollar deficits every year. I’m running to make the tough cuts needed, but then move on and focus on what we can do to create a city more people want to live and work in, therefore supplying more revenue and alleviating any need to cut crucial and important services.
People pick the City they want to live in (and stay in!) nowadays before they pick the company they want to work for. We must start to make Cincinnati a place that people want to live and businesses want to bring jobs to.
The one thing that can’t be replicated anywhere else is our architecture. Recently on a trip to the Apple store to fix my broken iPhone (which I had dropped just one too many times), I talked to a new resident who moved here from Austin, Texas. Austin is one of those cities everyone talks about wanting to live in (and a city our Governor thinks is more “cool” than anywhere in Ohio).
The Apple guy told me, “Yes, Austin has a night life incomparable to Cincinnati. Yes, there is something fun to do every day and night.” However, he told me what he loves about Cincinnati is being able to enjoy a low cost of living while experiencing architecture unmatched to Austin and many other “buzzed about cities.” We must make it a priority to restore, renovate and repopulate our City by investing in the rehabilitation of our buildings, neighborhoods and business districts. We cannot afford to lose one more historic building. It’s a top priority of mine now and will continue to be when serving on Cincinnati City Council.
And now a question every candidate for City Council should be asked: Do you support the immediate commencement of construction of a modern streetcar connecting Fountain Square with Findlay Market?
Thank you, Chris, and good luck!
*Update: Someone informed me that incumbent Roxanne Qualls lives on Central Parkway within the borders of OTR, which would make Chris Seelbach the only nonincumbent and one of only two candidates for City Council from Over-the-Rhine.