A robust Columbus depends on strong safety forces, a solid economic-development plan and more efficient city services, according to the Democratic candidates running for city council.

Editor's note : ThisWeek will profile Republican city council candidates in a future edition.

A robust Columbus depends on strong safety forces, a solid economic-development plan and more efficient city services, according to the Democratic candidates running for city council.

A. Troy Miller, Eileen Paley and Priscilla Tyson, all incumbents, agree that the income-tax increase approved by voters in August will keep the city on a positive course.

By raising the city's income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent, Columbus voters sent a message that they care about the city and value its safety forces, Miller said. The higher rate takes effective today, (Thursday, Oct. 1), and is expected to raise $100-million a year.

"We avoided what other cities are facing right now," Miller said, referring to layoffs of police, firefighters and EMS crews. Mayor Michael B. Coleman had said without the increase, the city might have been forced to eliminate nearly 550 safety employees.

Now, the city can concentrate on its future, which needs to include the recruitment of high-paying jobs and an image enhancement, the candidates said.

All the candidates said they are in support of the mayor's plan for government reform, which would streamline operations and is expected to save $100- to $150-million over the next 10 years.

Miller, Paley and Tyson will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot along with Republican candidates Alicia Healy, Roseann Hicks and Matt Ferris. The top vote-getters will win the three seats on council.

Miller, 43, is the president of ATM Central Development, a medical software developer. He plans to launch a Web site in the next couple of weeks called Vision Columbus, which will ask residents what they would like to see the city become. Appointed to replace Kevin Boyce in January, Miller said he would like to see Columbus become a high-tech hub -- such as those in Austin, Texas, and the Research Triangle in North Carolina -- and develop a reputation for nurturing those types of businesses.

Since being appointed in January to replace Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, Paley said she's been collaborating with other agencies to stop duplication of services and provide them more efficiently and at a lower cost.

For example, council has worked with various county agencies to establish two separate courts for drug offenders and prostitutes. That is projected to reduce recidivism and save millions, said Paley, 46, an attorney in private practice.

Tyson said she has a passion for helping people, from working on city council to operating Star Arts Ltd., a gallery on the city's east side that showcases the work of budding artists. She said when budget reductions forced the closing of several recreation centers, she was instrumental in getting some of those facilities reopened with public and private dollars.

Tyson, 54, was first appointed to council in 1997 and won re-election later that year. While some have lamented the one-party rule at City Hall -- Democrats are in control of council, the mayor's office and auditor's office -- Tyson pointed out "that's a decision the public makes."

"We're each a council member, so we have diversity of thought on our council," she said.

She said she believes Columbus is viewed warmly by people outside of central Ohio.

"I think that our reputation is that we're a good city to live in, our costs (of living) are low, it's a good city to raise a family," she said. "And people are beginning to find out we're big on research. I think we need to begin to tout ourselves more."

Council members are paid $38,848 per year, excluding the council president who makes $46,733 a year. All members declined 2009 pay raises.