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University graduate runs for city council

Two-time graduate of Bowling Green, Holly Cipriani, announced in February that she will be running for city council for an at-large seat. Here’s an overview of what inspired Cipriani to run and what she hopes to cover.

Q: Why did you decide to run for city council?

A: I decided for a few reasons. My undergrad is political science, my masters was in public administration, both are received from BGSU. When I first came to Bowling Green about 12 years ago I was the student that came with that intention of receiving my undergraduates degree and then moving on, but during my time as a student I got involved with different projects in the Bowling Green community and I fell in love with (the) town and the more I got involved with the city and with community members, the more I realized I wanted to stay and continue the work that I was doing. So, the reason I’m running now is, this just seemed like a good time considering the light of our federal administration and our current presidency. There seemed to be some concerns locally that people were wanting to see, not necessarily a change but support. I hear from my neighbors and residents and people that I work with, that they want to have their voices heard and I feel that I can be that advocate for them. I’ve always been dedicated to public service and I’m very interested in serving at the local level. I genuinely believe this is where true change can be actually happen and happen…in a very tangible way.

Q: What kind of experiences and credentials to you bring to the table as running for city council?

A: One thing that makes me unique is that I have my masters in public administration, so I’ve spent my entire educational career focused on learning about our government structure, both at the theoretical level but also in a very applied way as well. So, educationally this has been my focus and professionally I’ve been working since 2009, full-time, in a few different areas, all of them focused in public service. I’ve held positions as advocates for survivors of domestic violence as well as human trafficking, and during my time there I helped build social service programs; I managed budgets and coordinated our programs, so I’m very familiar with the management side of things. That I think would play directly into what would be needed as a city council member, with the city management side of things… Specifically, in Bowling Green, as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to partner with our economic development office here in BG and create a shop local campaign to promote our local businesses and help our residents be informed consumers. Supporting our local business is something I would like to revitalize. It’s an initiative that I worked on years ago and would like to bring back and I know our downtown has some concerns. It is struggling in some areas so using my background knowledge from there and from my educational experience… I also work right now on a project as part of the Community Action Plan which is a city initiative. I’m a volunteer there and planning Court Street Connects festival, which is an initiative coming out of the community action plan, focused on revitalizing our neighborhoods and also looking at potentially getting bike lanes, that is something that has been talked about for years, basically since I was a student I can remember this, and so taking some action now on trying to see if this is something that is viable in the city, so I’ve worked on a lot of different projects locally and in Northwest Ohio in general that I think would help with the experience needed.

Q: You mentioned the economic development for downtown, was that BuyBG?

A: It is, yes! I started that.. there are five of us that worked on this project and we created that initiative.

Q: How do you plan to revitalize that, if you have any specific ideas already?

A: Yeah, so when we originally created it, we developed an internship that is housed within the economic development office. We wrote a handbook for that intern so that way it would be something that was sustainable; it could be carried forward after we graduated. That is something that I would like to see be picked back up and in the same way that we did. We were graduate students that took this on as a service learning project and those students and those resources are still available and I would like to kind of go back to the roots that started this program and get additional students involved in this project, have them do some research on what is working well in our community, what is not working well, how do we improve upon that, so go out to the business owners and ask them “what do you need?” So actually talking to them about what they see as being challenges and what they see as working well currently, but then also going outside of Bowling Green and finding other cities that are established in a very similar fashion as we are and doing some policy research. Cities that are thriving, that have the university embedded within a small town, that are doing well; what are they doing that’s working? I would like to partner with our Center for Community Engagement, because they now have a policy research service… that they can do and get some students involved in that and do some actual policy research, bring that back, have them make recommendations and see if that’s something that can be implemented here.

Q: Do you have any ideas or things you hope to accomplish regarding sexual violence or family safety I guess is the best way to say it?

A: Yeah, absolutely. I am currently a member of our Wood County Trauma Informed Steering Committee and I’m using the experience that I gained as a DELTA project coordinator working for family and child abuse prevention center as well as advocating opportunity to help better inform our community about what trauma is and means, so the first function I suppose for the Steering Committee is to better understand trauma and help the community be aware of what that means, how to recognize it, and what to do if you are working with somebody who maybe has experienced some form of a trauma. The other side of that to me is prevention. I was actually just at the It’s On Us student meeting and we’re talking about prevention. That is something that is near and dear to my heart because I worked as a DELTA project coordinator and prevention I don’t think gets enough attention. It is incredibly important that we start this type of healthy relationship education at a very young age, so I used to go into junior highs and high schools and talked to the students about what is a healthy relationship actually look like, when can you recognize when it no longer is at, and helping to identify what are your deal breakers basically in any kind of relationship and what to do when you feel like that’s being challenged. That is something that I will always have in the forefront of my mind on things to work on and projects to implement. That would be fantastic to bring into our educational backgrounds here in the city with not just our high schools but junior high and younger and in keeping that as a conversation that needs to continue and also working with the It’s On Us committee and making sure that their needs are being met and that their voices are being heard on what they see as being the current issues that they’re facing right now… I would be an active advocate for initiatives that are involved in family violence prevention.

Q: Would you plan on doing any work with the Cocoon shelter on campus?

A: Oh, absolutely… I will be involved in those things whether I’m elected into city council or not. Those are initiatives that I very much believe in and a lot of the work that I do right now will be things that I’ll continue to do whether elected or not. I’m just hoping to be able to take it to a more leadership role and to a more active voice in the community.

Q: Are there any other issues you would want to cover if you get elected?

A: The main things that I’m currently focusing on would be our local economic development… revitalizing the BuyBG campaign and supporting our local businesses because I think that is important. Revitalizing our neighborhoods is another area I would love to see more focus put on, especially since we are a growing population, we need to make sure that we’re taking care of those that are here, so our residents, even our student population that is choosing to live in Bowling Green, that those neighborhoods are well cared for and then just that Bowling Green remain a community where people feel safe and welcome. It’s important to me that we have leaders in place that will not only accept those initiatives but will actively advocate for them and appreciate the diversity that our town brings, so that’s something that I would very much be focused on.

Primary elections for city council are on May 2.

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