| JM RAYBURN
City Councilmember Zachary M. Klein joined Columbus City Council in January 2011 and serves as the chair of the Development and Recreation & Parks committees. Councilmember Klein sat down with Quorum Columbus to talk about public service, development and the LGBTQ community.
ZK: I grew up in Belpre, Ohio. It’s in Washington County, right across the river from Parkersburg, West Virginia. So I’m an Appalachian kid that came to Ohio State and Capital Law school. With the exception of working in Washington, DC and Lima, Ohio for a year a piece, I lived in Columbus the past 13 years. And I love calling Columbus my home.
JM: Who inspired you to pursue your career in public service?
ZK: I’ve always been interested in government and politics. I wanted to find an opportunity where I thought my skill set would serve the job. And that’s where the opportunity came around. I thought that my background and working in Washington and working for Richard Cordray in democratic politics would give me an opportunity to serve the citizens of the City of Columbus.
But I have to give all credit of being my political mentor to Rich Cordray, who is now director of the Consumer Finance Bureau in Washington, DC. I got my start in politics with him. As an attorney and working for Rich, one of the brightest attorneys in the United States, and being able to work for him and under him was just a tremendous opportunity. And to be able to translate that skillset right here to the Columbus City Council.
JM: Using 2011 data from the US Census, Gay Census, and the Media Audit, the buying power of the Columbus LGBTQ Community is roughly $7.5 billion. What developments are needed to further protect and empower the LGBTQ community?
ZK: We are getting close to the limits of what we can do as a city. City Council President Andrew Ginther mentioned the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index ranked Columbus #1, 100 percent across the board. We can’t score any higher. There are certainly things we could do as a state and as a society about recognizing same-sex marriage. If I had the ability, I would stand at the courthouse steps with Mayor Coleman and marry people. But unfortunately our hands are tied because of the state constitution and federal constitution—until the U.S. Supreme Court tells us otherwise.
JM: What is your favorite word?
ZK: Equality! JM: Smart answer!
JM: How can the City of Columbus be more attractive to LGBTQ graduates of local universities and colleges and help retain these persons in the city?
ZK: We have to market ourselves better. Columbus is a great city and it has a lot to offer in terms of a vibrant nightlife, a diverse community, an education base, a science center, a fashion scene, and a deserving respect for the arts, all of which are important factors people consider when searching for a place to live and raise a family.
JM: How does Mayor Zach Klein sound?
ZK: It is my hope that Mayor Michael Coleman stays in office for as long as possible because he has had such a positive impact, not only on the city, but on me as well. He is an individual that has my respect and admiration.