April 15, 2024

Far from the national headlines and the attention of most Wittenberg students, there is an important election coming in November. While the election lacks a former reality show host or a member of the Bush family, the Springfield mayoral election, nevertheless, will surely have a direct impact on our community. While local issues are often complex and are usually not at the forefront of the voters’ choice, in this election it is clear —  voters should choose to re-elect Wittenberg Professor of Religion and Urban Studies Warren Copeland.
Copeland has served as mayor of Springfield for 21 years. While it is no secret that changes in the national economy have presented Springfield with its share of challenges in the job market, Copeland has worked hard to encourage economic development in the city. His tenure as mayor has seen the construction and incorporation of Prime Ohio 1 and Prime Ohio 2, two industrial parks which have brought jobs to Springfield. In a time when the Midwest is transitioning away from the industries of the past, Copeland has helped encourage development in new industries throughout Springfield.
Copeland has also been a strong advocate for the city’s neighborhoods, working to deliver city services in a timely, effective and fair manner. Furthermore, Copeland has led the commission to take a measured, pragmatic approach to solving the city’s housing problems.
For example, during Copeland’s time in office, Springfield received the largest per capita grant from the federal government for the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. This grant is used to help repair houses and to stabilize property values in the city’s neighborhoods that were hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. This program is indicative of understanding the limits of government programs in controlling market forces, all while simultaneously working to do whatever they can to ameliorate the failures of the market on an immediate level.
Furthermore, unlike other commissioners running for re-election this fall, Copeland voted to add sexual orientation to the city’s human rights code. Though in Springfield, people can still be fired, evicted or refused service for their sexual orientation, Copeland — along with fellow commissioner Karen Duncan — stood up to this unjust status quo. Since the 2012 vote, the politics around the issue have become clear — at the time of the vote, it was surely, at the very least, a political risk to cast the vote as Copeland and Duncan did.
Although all of the aforementioned policies and positions are important and should not be overlooked, Copeland’s tenure as mayor should not be reduced to a series of votes and list accomplishments. Rather, his tenure should be viewed as a steadfast commitment to social justice and stewardship over a city that has faced complex problems and will continue to in the near future. For these reasons, among others, it is important to vote to re-elect Mayor Warren Copeland this coming November.

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