City Council member PG Sittenfeld hosted an event to hear the public’s ideas
Photo courtesy of P.G. Sittenfeld’s Facebook page | Derrick Braziel (left) shakes hands with PG Sittenfeld (right) at the end of the Policy Pitch Night. Braziel proposed that the city create an office for minority business growth and innovation for entrepreneurs. The crowd voted on each of the five proposals and decided that Braziel’s was best.
City Councilmember PG Sittenfeld hosted what he called a “Policy Pitch Night” on Monday, where members of the Cincinnati community pitched ideas for public policy they want to be put into place.
Sittenfeld put the event together with a group called Bridgeable, which is focused on community engagement, and with the assistance of City Councilmember Chris Seelbach and Assistant City Manager Sheila Hill-Christian, who were both in attendance. The event, which took place at People’s Liberty on Elm Street, had a packed house, according to WKRC Cincinnati.
“I think it’s a good idea (to hear the community’s ideas for policy),” Economics, Sustainability and Society major Haley Hayes said. “You have to listen to the community’s voice.”
As a part of one of her required classes, Hayes talked about how she had to speak in front of the council and propose an idea to make the city more sustainable and how it seemed like the students’ ideas weren’t listened to properly.
“By doing this I feel like it makes (city council) actually pay attention to the voices,” Hayes said. “They’re kind of required to, in a way, so I think it’s a really great idea.”
There were around 30 policy ideas originally submitted to Sittenfeld and Bridgeable, but only five of those were chosen as finalists.
The five finalists were Alex Heilan, Pamela Kaufman, Tina Dyehouse, a group of four women (Maria Piombo, Holly Hankinson, Grace Hauck and Ashlin Lindsey) and Derrick Braziel.
Heilan’s proposal was, according to WKRC Cincinnati, “to create a Cincinnati Brand to help define the city and attract more businesses and people.”
Kaufman hoped to create a city office dedicated to fighting homelessness through centralizing efforts to help persons experiencing homelessness.
Dyehouse proposed that the city create a digital ombudsman, which is generally a person who would receive complaints and answer questions on behalf of officials.
Piombo, Kankinson, Hauck and Lindsey wanted to promote gender inclusion on city appointed boards and commissions as a way to get more fair representation in the local government.
Braziel, who presented on behalf of the urban entrepreneurship group MORTAR, proposed that the city create an office for minority business growth and innovation for entrepreneurs, per WKRC.
Sittenfeld expressed his excitement before the event, comparing it to Shark Tank, a TV show where people propose their business ideas to investors.
“I think the ritual of pitch events that you see in the start up community could be extrapolated and deployed for the good when it comes to government, too, so we’re really excited to see what comes out of this,” Sittenfeld said. “There’s a little bit of a dynamic for this as a Shark Tank for policy but with much nicer, kinder judges.”
Despite the judges in this case being Sittenfeld, Seelbach and Hill-Christian, the ultimate decision was made by the crowd, who voted on each of the proposals with a marble that was given to them when they entered the building. The winning proposal was Braziel’s, meaning that Sittenfeld has to get to work on writing policy that would help minority business owners and innovate small businesses.
By: Kevin Thomas | Managing Editor