About Council President Hardin
Born and raised on the south side of Columbus, Council President Shannon Hardin is committed to building an equitable future that works for every resident in our city. As Columbus grows, Council President Hardin is focused on fostering an inclusive economy by partnering to build mass transit and affordable housing, empowering small and minority businesses, and providing youth with pathways to the middle class. Regardless of the issue, Council President Hardin views public policy through the saying, “If it’s not for all, then it’s not for us.”
Based on his own experience going to Columbus City Schools and graduating college with six-figures of student debt, Council President Hardin developed the Columbus Promise - an initiative to allow Columbus City School graduates to attend Columbus State Community College for free with special coaching and support. For Columbus to be the best place in America to learn, earn, and find your career, we need to make bold investments in education. That’s why Council President Hardin worked with Columbus State, Columbus City Schools, and I Know I Can to create a free, guaranteed pathway for students to get a credential or degree. Talent is distributed evenly, but opportunity isn’t. Council President Hardin started the Columbus Promise because Columbus can’t wait.
Council President Hardin believes that investing in transportation and infrastructure connects residents to jobs, education, and healthcare. As Co-Chair of the Insight2050 Corridor Concepts Initiative, Council President Hardin led a collaborative effort to analyze what focusing new housing and business growth along high-capacity transit corridors could mean for our region’s economy, health, and environment. This study has gained traction as the vision for Columbus’ future, and has evolved into LinkUS Columbus, a collaborative initiative to develop advanced rapid transit and transportation options near housing and jobs. With a million people expected to move to Columbus before 2050, Council President Hardin will continue to push for a transportation system that works for all of us
Understanding the racial inequities that impact communities of color every day, Council President Hardin worked with former Mayor Coleman to create Columbus’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. My Brother’s Keeper aims to reduce opportunity gaps for young men of color through city-wide goals, service provider coordination, and collective action. Council President Hardin examined how past marijuana laws primarily burden black men, particularly young black men. Through the leadership of Council President Hardin and Councilmember Shayla Favor, Council passed a two-part marijuana justice package: decreasing penalties for low-level marijuana possession and supporting record sealing services to get formerly incarcerated residents back into safe housing and good-paying jobs. As a result of state and city action, City Attorney Zach Klein will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana offenses.
Over the years, Council President Hardin has stepped up to lead big projects for the Columbus community. President Hardin led the charge to restructure Council. Council placed a bundle of reforms recommended by a citizen-led commission to improve accountability and neighborhood representation on the ballot. These changes overwhelmingly passed in May of 2018. Similarly, Council President Hardin drove the effort to nearly double public support for arts. The more than $6 million increase will improve family access to Columbus’ cultural gems while stabilizing civic treasures such as the Lincoln Theater, the King Arts Complex, and other historic arts establishments.
Council President Hardin serves on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the National League of Cities Board of Directors. He was appointed to Council in 2014, subsequently won election in 2015, 2017, and 2021. Council President Hardin earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and is a proud member of the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Council President Hardin is married to Ben Zachrich and, together, they are raising their son Noah Hardin-Zachrich on the Near East Side.