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 bridging opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color. 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.”
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 a vision for Columbus’ future; work is ongoing to begin implementing this transit-forward model for inclusive growth. While Council President Hardin is focused on expanding our transit system, he’s also vigilant of how we can improve public services with technology and data. Council President Hardin fought for Columbus to win the Smart Cities Challenge to improve our transportation system by implementing smart technology onboard COTA buses, increasing electric car utilization, and much more. 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, housed in the Department of Neighborhoods, 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.
As Chair of the Small and Minority Business Committee, Council President Hardin established partnerships around Columbus to connect small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, with the training and capital they need to thrive. Council President Hardin worked together with Mayor Ginther to adopt the 2019 Columbus Disparity Study, which provides the foundation to increase the City of Columbus’s minority and female-owned business utilization. The Council President remains committed to pursuing policy remedies to eliminate disparities so all small businesses can grow in Columbus.
Outside his committees, 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.
Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin serves as the Chair of the Rules and Reference Committee - overseeing the legislative agenda, changes to Columbus City Code, and appointments - as well as Chair of the Small and Minority Business Committee - driving policy to encourage equitable City purchasing and a thriving small business ecosystem. Council President Hardin previously chaired the Public Service and Transportation Committee and the Neighborhoods Committee. Council President Hardin is laying the groundwork for equity in Columbus by leveling barriers to transportation, creating new opportunities for small businesses, and working to eliminate opportunity gaps for young men of color.
Prior to joining Council, Council President Hardin served as the External Affairs Manager, LGBTQ liaison, and was on the Religious Advisory Commission for the Office of Mayor Michael B. Coleman. In these positions, Council President Hardin provided a strong voice for the community in city government, working with Columbus City Council to ensure that the City earned a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. In addition to creating a more queer-inclusive city, Councilmember Hardin developed programs around violence intervention ( APPS), African-American wellness ( AAMI), and anti-recidivism ( Restoration Academy).
Council President Hardin serves on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Expo 2050 Task Force, as the Transit Committee Co-Chair for the National League of Cities - Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Council President Hardin is a member of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP. He was appointed to Council on October 7th, 2014, won election on November 3rd, 2015, and was reelected on November 7th, 2017. 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 four-legged children, Teddy & Bella.