West Side News

Franklin County Commissioner race

Brooks: County 'doing something right'


Paula Brooks touts the region's economic growth as an advantage in her race for re-election to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.

Brooks, a two-term Democratic incumbent, will face Republican James Pfaff in the Nov. 6 general election.

She says Franklin County is one of the few successes in Ohio.

Population has increased 22 percent from 2000-2010 and Franklin County is the only Ohio county with a AAA bond rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's, two powerhouse credit-rating agencies, which allows the county to borrow money at a lower rate.

"We're doing something right," Brooks said.

Pfaff, 53, of Grove City, is a former U.S. Air Force colonel. Repeated attempts to reach him to participate in an interview with ThisWeek were unsuccessful.

Brooks of Upper Arlington graduated from Youngstown State University and received a law degree from Capital University.

Her public service work includes being a former investigator for the Ohio Attorney General's Office and assistant director of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

Brooks, 59, also served on Upper Arlington City Council.

Critics of the county commissioners have leveled the charge of "corporate welfare," government bailouts of corporations.

One example is the county's decision to set aside $8 million to guarantee the financing of the new Hilton hotel in downtown Columbus.

However, that money will not be used if the hotel is successful. Similarly, the city of Columbus is contributing money from parking meters.

Brooks called it a "calculated assessment," with county officials hoping the new hotel will help attract larger conventions to the city, thereby bringing in more revenue.

Commissioners also approved giving 25 percent of the state casino money it receives to purchase Nationwide Arena and pay for capital improvements over the next 28 to 30 years.

The arena's owners were struggling financially, county officials said.

Columbus matched the county's pledge. Some have questioned why a private investment needs taxpayer money and suggested putting the issue on the ballot.

"We had to make a decision," Brooks said. "You can avoid responsibility and sometimes that's OK, but I had to take responsibility for this."