Tim Fulton 00:08
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. We are a weekly Columbus centric podcast focusing on the civics, lifestyle, entertainment, and people of our city. I’m your host Tim Fulton this week. In anticipation of this fall’s election, the confluence cast is endeavoring to introduce Columbus voters to the 12 Council and two mayoral candidates in their own words, when Lourdes burrows so Deepa, the first one her seat on Columbus City Council in 2021. She was the first Latina to serve in the role, a role that she plans to continue as she runs unopposed for reelection to council district eight this November. In today’s interview, she talks about her background and goes a lot deeper into the conversations around growth, transportation, and opportunity. You can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cass.com. Enjoy the interview. Sitting down here with Columbus city councilwoman Lord ace Burroughs today for the you are running for district eight of council first of all, how are you?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 01:19
I’m great. How are you?
Tim Fulton 01:20
I’m well, first of all, tell us about yourself. What brings you to office and to this campaign coming up?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 01:27
Sure. So I’m finishing my second year on council. I am the daughter of immigrants. Okay. My parents are from Cuba. And they came to Columbus, you know, shockingly, there’s not a direct pipeline from Havana, Cuba to Columbus, Ohio. Like most immigrants migrants or refugees. They knew somebody. Yeah. And so they came with my sisters in the 70s and I was born six years later, okay. We have been lifelong East siders. My dad’s first job was at the Kahiki and my mom’s first job was at my aunt’s Beauty Shop my aunt was the reason that we came here as a good family friend Okay, um, and she cut up you know, our she swept hair and washed heads for quarter ahead and learned English by watching soap operas. And my literally the my entire existence was like the our first apartment was at what was then Beverly Manor later became Greenbrier which is the site of Afrocentric high school now, okay, an apartment on Whitehall and then the house that my parents actually live in now, which is where my mother still lives to this day. And it’s the only family home that we have a house that my mother still pays for it to this day, unfortunately. And I grew up a total Columbus critics existence, you know, going to, I mean, literally my high school and middle school elementary school were all within walking distance of my house. And so for the two years, I was busted, bused by Franklin Park. So literally, four to five miles. That was my life. And for high school people ask, ya know, this is a gentleman asked, it tells me a lot about you. Yeah, once I know what high school you went to. But I after high school did a program called City here. It’s an AmeriCorps program. So I did two years of service as a younger person. And
Tim Fulton 03:11
did they let you keep the khakis and the jacket?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 03:14
Do you do you get?
Tim Fulton 03:16
I actually have some of it. Well, I imagine you have the red jacket. I
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 03:19
do. I do. I don’t wear the khakis, but I have them. Okay. He did Frank khakis, Natick. Good luck. Curvy Girl, you know, but um, but I worked on the south side of Columbus turning an old church into a community center. And that was really a turning point for me. And I mean, it’s crazy to say that at like, 17. But I just I love the work I loved. We were, you know, we had an after school program and a free store where people could shop with dignity. So you came in, and we acted like you were in a real store, like, what? What sizes do you need, and we pulled things for you. And we wrapped it up and send your breakfast program and all these things that, you know, we never asked the community what they wanted. So we started knocking on doors. And that’s where I learned a couple things. Number one, not all communities look the same, but they certainly feel the same, right? So when I walked in, and I talked to people in their houses, they wanted the same things. The same prosperity that brought my parents to Columbus, lives in every corner of the city lived in the South side, right? People wanted better jobs, they wanted better for their kids, they want to better for themselves. I learned that proximity is everything right? That being proximate to each other, we see each other’s humanity and we understand each other, like all the differences that our eyes see, by talking, we see that we’re more alike than we are different. And I learned to listen, which is really hard. As a mother of teenagers, I know, to really listen to what people want because even when they couldn’t articulate it, they told you inherently in the stories or the things that they you know, the experiences that they shared, so I knew then that service was going to be part of my life, no matter what. And I’ve been been with the organization for 30 years, I still work at City headquarters now. And, you know, I got into politics really, during the Obama campaign. I mean, I had volunteered for the Kerry campaign when I lived in Boston for a while. And then, during the Obama campaign, I was helping getting people registered to vote and talking to people about why it was important. And I think it was such an inspirational time for the country. And we looked at politics different. And so I think, you know, that caught fire. And it certainly inspired me to think about what my next was and what I wanted to do with my wife. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in office or wanting to work for a politician. And so essentially, it was through that work that I really started to get more engaged and involved in Columbus after I came after I moved back here from living on the East Coast for a while, and so worked with a lot of different organizations and just saw the incredible growth that Columbus was going through, and how Columbus was changing. And, you know, coming from Boston, where I was paying almost $2,000, for rent in 20. In 2006, okay, yeah, right, I saw us on that trajectory, as a city. And so I wanted to be part of I firmly believe that Columbus is on the precipice of of deciding what kind of city we want to be okay, and to be part of that process. And to give voice to it from, you know, from my lived experiences, I mean, immigrants, migrants, or refugees are the number one factor behind our population growth. Yet, my parents and the 50 years that they’ve been in this country have never seen anyone locally, who looks like them, or has their shared experience, sitting at the table making decisions for them. So the population of immigrants migrants or refugees, or it’s going to get up to we have like 150, some 1000. I mean, then those numbers are shaky, I believe, because census and other things and how we count people. But over the course of the next one years, that number is projections are that it could get up to a million or no, sorry, by 2050, it could get up to a million cities. And that changes the city. Yeah. And how are we preparing ourselves for that change? And how are we thinking about and considering those communities, because it’s an asset that they chose us? Right. And that’s, that’s what makes the city great. It adds to your, to the culture of the city and adds to the diversity of the city, it adds to all the city assets. And so I deeply believe that representation is important. And it’s more than just representing, you know, immigrants, migrants, or refugees feeling like I’m part of that community. As a first generation American, it’s also about all the rest of my life experiences, you know, doing AmeriCorps, serving my country in a very different way. Right, being proximate to community being a community organizer, I just felt like that was a different perspective that I could bring to council. And when I really started to see that I could forge a path to really, you know, be the first Latina. And for me, it wasn’t just about being the first right, it’s about setting the path for the fourth and the fifth and the sixth to after me. And if I could do it, then I know that we could do that for the African diaspora, we could do it for the Asian diaspora, we could do it for all of these other folks who have never been on council before, who have never brought their perspective experiences to counsel to help to change the conversation. And so that’s really what led me on this path. And, you know, once I got into the council, you’ll see that those have essentially been all of my priorities since being on council.
Tim Fulton 08:36
Talk us through some of the issues that are facing Columbus, what are the and what how are you and how would you address those on council?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 08:46
You know, it’s interesting, because I think our growth is something that I think we talk about a lot, but I’m not sure that people really understand what that means, right? When we talk about density, what that means and what that looks like, right? When we talk about having a true bus rapid transit system, what that looks like building these corridors that we talked about, that we want to do with Blink us. It’s hard for people to visualize, like, why would why would a bus line? Why would we develop around a bus line? Right? Like these are concepts that I think we haven’t done? The best job of really having a community conversation with our residents about what that means and how that’s going to change our city, our neighborhoods, and literally, quite frankly, their lives. Right. And I think with with that growth that brings both prosperity and opportunity, but also challenges because none of the none of the challenges that we had before go away. And quite frankly, we’ve had a lot of these challenges before, right. We had a transportation challenge. I mean, tell me a time in the city where someone couldn’t get somewhere because they didn’t have a car. Right, right or because Kota didn’t have all of the lines that we need. Did you know or you couldn’t get to that great job? Because, you know, you’re I mean, my mother has never driven a day in her life. Okay. So Cotto quite literally was our second car growing up. And so my mother used to work right downtown at a medicine Packing Company that then moved to the west side of Columbus, and we lived on the east side. So literally, my mother spent almost four hours a day commuting to that job. That’s
Tim Fulton 10:24
a lot of time on the number 10. Yes.
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 10:26
And if anything happened, anything, a car accident, a freeway shut down, or whatever, we weren’t seeing my mom for a while. And you know, my mom was the one who cooked dinner. My mom was the one who I mean, you know, when she worked different shifts and affected it differently. So I understand the complexities of what it looks like when when that when you’re you don’t have access? Yeah. And so all of those things are, I mean, the growth is driving all of the things that we’re talking about today, the housing crisis, transportation, when we’re talking about economic development, everything that we’re talking about really centers around that growth. I just think it’s about how do we connect the dots for folks? And how do we help them come to a place of understanding what this change is going to look like for them?
Tim Fulton 11:17
Great. Talk to us about how you feel about the new districting system and how that’s going to basically affect folks?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 11:25
Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s interesting, I think that we’ve had one structure of government here in the city of Columbus for a really long time. Right. And we heard the people when they said, We want more representation. And I feel I mean, theoretically, and I know, Council President always gives us analogy, which I think is a good one, you know, all city council members can live in like one apartment building. Right. And I feel like, you know, I will say, as a lifelong East sider, right, I understand the east side in a way that other folks might, right? I understand that our basements flooded because of because of, we live like on a downslope and we’re right by like alum Creek, I understand that, or where alum Creek comes through, I understand the challenges that we have on Broad Street and McNaughton, I understand the significance of a slum on that property. And what that can mean for the whole east side corridor, I understand what it means to live between two other municipalities like white hot and Bexley, right, and to drive in and out of them, and to see the growth of those areas and how it’s improving. And then it looks very different when you’re in Columbus. And that is unique to me, because that’s my home. That’s why I also lived on the south side for 11 years, right, and fundamentally understand parts of the south side from my time being there for a decade. And so I think that having that representation is so important for our residents. And I feel that right, if you feel like the south side has, or the west side has been struggling for years, and they haven’t had representation for years. In your mind, you can very easily draw correlation to like, what about us? Right. And so the need for residents to feel like they have that that representation, I think is important. I also understand that, you know, I’ve lived in other cities where we’ve had different structures where, you know, districts start to fight with other districts about what they want, and what they need, and who’s gonna get what this go around. And, you know, the way that the district maps are drawn, I mean, there are some districts that are more or differently resourced. Yeah. Other districts, right? I mean, if you look at district seven, and has literally everything, and it literally, it’s the heart of the city, right? Yeah. And so that feels very different when you get to district eight, and district nine or district one who are like, on the edges of the city, and that it feels very different to live out there. Right. Yeah. And so I think that this was a compromise. This was a compromise to say, how do we kind of have the best of both worlds of folks feeling like they have representation, but then also feeling, feeling as connected to the east side, as I do to every part of the city, feeling like I am, I represent the South side and the west side, and the north side and the Far East and whatever, just as much as I represent my little part of the city, right? And so we’re going to try it, you’re gonna see how this works. And folks should hold us accountable. And then we get an opportunity to review it, and say, this is the thing that works. And this is the thing that doesn’t work.
Tim Fulton 14:31
And just to translate back what you’re saying, It’s basically based on geographic proximity, which is something you were talking about a second ago. It’s important to have representation but that you still remain accountable to Yes, every every citizen and this
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 14:45
is yes, because I think that once we do, again, I think other places, even Cleveland, that’s not that far away, right? When you’re in that Ward system, it starts to get really tricky. When you talk about development. When you talk about zoning, when You talk about all of these other things. And I think that it has been the approach, you know, weather, however people feel about it. It’s our approach to think about and look at the whole city. Right. And so our is there a better job that we could do? Absolutely. There’s always going to be a better job that we could do. I think that we’re on the track to doing that. Right. But we’re gonna see how this district thing thing works. And, you know, my hope is that once this catches on, people understand it. And, you know, we we don’t have another election where there’s, you know, nine candidates with only three opponents. Yeah, right.
Tim Fulton 15:33
I hope not. Last question. Well, last big bucketed question. What do you bring to the table? Why should folks vote for you?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 15:42
Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know, I’ll kind of start, or I’ll end kind of where I started. I mean, I think that I bring a different perspective to city council. And I think, my hope is that people have seen that people have seen it in the work that we’ve done, we were able to pass some pay equity legislation that essentially removes employers from asking your past salary history from the application process. And we did that. Because, you know, I, women are still we’re still fighting for, I mean, I was gonna say, a bad word. Shoot, and I’m still fighting for equal rights. Yeah. Right, as women, and so we’re not getting paid, what we should what we deserve to get paid. And you and we’re sliding backwards and Latina Equal Pay Day was, it has gone back almost two full months than where we started before the pandemic, right. So we’re making less money on the dollar than like, why our white male counterparts, right. And so this was a small way for us to move closer to pay equity to make it a true salary negotiation between an employer and a potential employee. And quite frankly, this means everyone makes more money, even even the white dude that already makes more money than I do. You’re welcome. So we have, we’ve done that we’ve done some really solid work around thinking about transportation, and I’m not sure I’ll be completely candid, with all the transportation issues I shared, I’m not sure that I always thought about transportation as an equity issue in the way that I do now, from like street resurfacing, to making sure that pothole doesn’t pop that tire, that I was going to send your life into chaos, because you’re gonna have to get a payday loan to pay for that tire, or get like a shitty tire from that tire place down the road, and you’re gonna have to keep paying for it. And then eventually, you’re gonna realize you need a good tire, and you’re still gonna have to make that expense, right? Like, infrastructure is important to people’s lives every day. And that’s ultimately the thing they care about, I get more calls, like pay equity was great. And people love that. You know what they really care about a sidewalk, and they really care about their street, they only care about, you know, a bus not getting there on time, they really care about the things that affects them and their families and their neighborhoods and the people that they love every day. And I think that’s what our office and my office is where all three Latina, we’re all three first generation Americans. We bring different perspectives, we really work on things as a team together as an office to really push on the perspectives. We really try to listen to residents and an elevate their concerns, pull back legislation, sometimes we can’t vote no on the things even when it’s not popular. And I think if you look at the things that we’ve been able to both push forward and the places where we have said no, I think that folks can see. You know that when I came into office, I wanted to ensure that my decisions as a legislator, were, were solely focused on the prosperity of our people and our families. And every decision for me whether it’s a zoning decision, or it’s, you know, buy more refuge trucks, right. It is in how is this helping our people and our families? And I think that if you look at our record my record, you will see that that’s consistent. And, and I think that’s why people should vote for me. And quite frankly, I mean, the unfortunate truth is, right now they don’t have another choice. Right. My hope is that they do Yeah, right. They did have another choice in 2021. They chose me, and I hope that they continue to do that. And I hope that I continue to, you know, again, I think that in in my next election cycle, I hope to have someone who challenges that so that the people really truly do have a choice. But that always in any scenario, even in one where I don’t have an opponent, that they’re still holding me accountable.
Tim Fulton 19:35
Absolutely. I end every interview with two questions. What do you think Columbus is doing? Well, and what do you think Columbus is not doing so well.
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 19:46
I think that we’re on track to planning for our growth, wealth. Okay. And what I mean by that is, I think that we are really Looking at other cities, similar cities and Austin or Charlotte, etc, that, that the growth overcame them overcame them? Yes. Certainly. Like a storm. Yep. Right. And they and they weren’t able to keep up, and they lost opportunities. And I think that, you know, we are we put together a housing a comprehensive housing plan to really think about how are we again, getting more housing stock out there, but but doing so in the most equitable fashion, and thinking about all facets from like, how do we make homeownership which is one of the things I’m championing? How do we make it more accessible to people? And how do we put them on a path to homeownership to how are we protecting tenants and their rights when they’re in their play in in their homes? To Bus Rapid Transit working on Linkous and really thinking about get really making a concerted effort to educate folks to get us wrap bus rapid transit. You know, I know folks want to very sexy light rail. This is what we’re getting, this is what we’re getting. And, and I assure people bus rapid transit, it does feel like a train. Yeah, you know, it’s more, it’s quicker, it’s more efficient, there’s more ways to pay. I think that that is also going to be a strategy for housing, that’s also going to be a strategy for growth, that’s also going to be a strategy for economic development. So I think that we’re on the road, to building out what our growth looks like and addressing it in a way that other cities weren’t ready.
Tim Fulton 21:35
And what are we not doing so? Well?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 21:37
I don’t think we’re good storytellers.
Tim Fulton 21:39
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 21:40
I don’t and where and what I mean by a story is the most basic meaning of the story, like I don’t think that we do the best job of always educating our community about the things that matter. Right.
Tim Fulton 21:56
Are you talking about Columbus as a whole? Are you talking about Council? Are you talking about Columbus sites? Residents?
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 22:04
I think I think I’m talking more about city government. Okay, counselor. I don’t I don’t think that we. And I think I thought about both of these questions from a council perspective, or from a city perspective. Yeah. I think that we don’t do a good job of like, of really explaining to folks, you know, the things that are happening every Monday night, Donna Council. And that is evident from like, even attendance Council, right? There are some things that I’m like, Oh, my gosh, this is huge. And we, you know, that no one shows up. Yeah, like another thing that, you know, perhaps they’ve heard of story, or, you know, they’ve learned from their area commission or a place like the compass underground says, Hey, guys, or something happens on Twitter, then we get a bunch of people that show up. Yeah, right. I don’t think we do a good job. I don’t think I also don’t think we’re modern, like we don’t use tick tock and Twitter and all these things to our advantage. Right. And I think that we could be doing that better. So that’s from that’s from a very, like, perspective. Yeah, I think the city people, real people of Columbus. I mean, I think that like our art scene is getting super exciting. More public art, making Columbus really a place that feels more inclusive and is beautiful, right? And, you know, we put some, we put some money forth for program cost. 614. Beautiful, that allows you to create art in every community and gives you funds to do that. But I think like as a community that’s happening. Yeah, like we do that. We have an incredible art community that cares about that. And is there like natural developers? We see that on in Franklinton. We saw that in the short north, right? Like that two artists are and so I’m really excited about that. I think like as a city, what we could be doing better. Okay, again, people Yeah, we need to go all in on Columbus man. Like we need to like love it.
Tim Fulton 23:51
Well, and isn’t actually that kind of an extension of we’re not good storytellers. Yeah. And I’ve, I’m on a slightly new kick of like, maybe we don’t do a good enough job of understanding and acknowledging our history. Yeah. And telling that to folks, and like, you know, I have one friend who does indeed have the city crest tattooed on him. But there’s not like, people have Ohio tattoos. They don’t have I have a Columbus tattoo. But yeah, like, yeah. Prime
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 24:27
Cincinnati people. And it’s not it’s I lived in Cleveland for a little while. It’s not like rooted in like, just there’s like sports teams. It’s like they go hard for their city. It’s funny, quick, quick story. I was getting on a plane. And I met a gentleman we were like, crazy layover, because of all these storms. And I met a gentleman who was from Cleveland. He had done some work in Columbus, and he was like, Columbus has no, no like, personality, like no vibe, like no. And I was like, pits. Yes, we do. And it was funny because he was trying to tell me he’s like, Well, what is it right and I’m like, blah Like, what’s Cleveland’s vibe like just being gritty? Or just being, you know, like, and this is like, no knock to any other city or No, yeah, I’m just talking about us. Like, I think like, we need to like, love our city. People go hard for their neighborhood. They want to go hard for the city. And I feel like that’s almost like the vibe of Columbus. It’d be like anticon like to love and hate Columbus. Maybe that’s our vibe. I don’t know. But I I do think that we just need to like, like, at one point when we when when like Columbus really like happens like we’re the second largest city in the Midwest, and people need to remember that outside of Chicago. Yeah. About to be the 13th largest city in the country, right? Like we have amazing things going for us. But like don’t get on the bandwagon like once like Columbus hits. When we when we really are like baby Chicago, and people are like, Oh my god, Columbus, I don’t I don’t want your love then. I need your love now.
Tim Fulton 25:53
Lourdes, thank you for your time today.
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla 25:55
Thank you for having me
Tim Fulton 26:06
thank you for listening to confidence cast presented by Columbus underground. Again, you can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com Please rate subscribe, share this episode of The confluence cast with your friends, family, contacts, enemies, your favorite family member. If you’re interested in sponsoring the confluence cast get in touch with us. We can be reached by email at info at the confluence cast.com Our theme music was composed by Benji Robinson, our producers Phil Cogley, I’m your host, Tim Fulton. Have a great week.