Garry Quits Council Race

Will focus on green efforts and 2011 race

By Jeremy Flannery

Brian Garry

Brian Garry

Losing a campaign endorsement from his own political party could make a candidate feel green. That’s the reason Brian Garry has dropped out of the race for Cincinnati City Council as a candidate in 2009.

The Democratic Party endorsed Garry in the 2007 council race. He placed 18th in the election, receiving 13,164 votes. The top nine finishers won seats on council. But this year the Cincinnati Democratic Committee decided not to endorse him, despite a letter of support for Garry from Vice Mayor David Crowley. Garry says he was one vote shy of being endorsed.

“I’m disappointed with their decision, but I’m choosing not to run as an independent candidate, to not run against the party,” he says. “There are a lot of community leaders and my supporters pursuing me to run this year, and I am not.”

Instead, Garry says he’ll continue the community activism he’s been involved in throughout his adult life, and he’ll prepare for the 2011 race. His campaign team, the “Garry Green Team,” will work to improve the city’s environment through business, volunteer projects and advocacy, he says. Garry’s platform focuses on creating sustainable green jobs, technology, transportation and space.

One way to work toward those goals even without being elected to office is Garry’s membership on the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission’s Green Building Committee, the Cincinnati Human Services Advisory Commission, the Mayor’s Green Cincinnati Initiative and the Community Development Advisory Board.

“When you get into politics, you enter with this sense of ideals,” Garry says. “But the scientific methods of change are not as idealistic. It’s more like moving the football down the field by inches – small increments of compromises to achieve those idealistic goals.”

Garry would like to work with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce to provide sustainable living for low-income earners through the Mayor’s Green City Initiative, he says. The growing demand for environmental initiatives is an opportunity to increase and improve the work force – an opportunity Cincinnati cannot afford to pass up, he says. Low-income earners could develop new skills and find higher paying jobs through such initiatives.

Garry also wants to see new manufacturing jobs created for the production of generators and equipment for environmentally friendly energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels. Workers could also find construction employment in initiatives to improve the quality and cost-efficiency of buildings in Cincinnati, he says.

“(Buildings) need to be made energy efficient for the sake of the homeowners, tenants and the environment, and that’s especially meaningful to low-income people when they have to pay $2,000 per year to heat their homes,” Garry says.

Buildings in Cincinnati could become green by improving their insulation and windows to efficiently maintain interior temperatures, Garry says. Hamilton County also needs to improve drainage systems to more efficiently filter sewage, he says. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sued Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati for water-pollution violations.

Buildings in Cincinnati could reduce carbon gases while creating a habitat for birds by planting vegetation on building tops, according to Garry. Chicago, San Francisco and other cities have already implemented vegetation into building plans.

Green initiatives should involve profitable work for business owners and workers to improve the environment, Garry says. A sustainable living wage and affordable housing are essential parts of being green, he says.

“When people talk about it, sipping some green tea and saying, ‘We’re going green,’ but then choose to bulldoze the poor people out and rebuild, that’s not equitable,” Garry says. “It is not being green when people cannot find affordable places to live.”

Garry and his brother have operated the Green City EcoStruction Co. for 24 years. The company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and uses building materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to offer more sustainable building practices for the environment and consumers.

Garry says he plans to open a store, the Green Depot, at 1235 Vine St. Over-the-Rhine.