Pencilstorm Interview: Brian Close for UA Council

There are eight candidates running for four seats on Upper Arlington City Council.  Pencilstorm asked each of the candidates five specific questions centered around issues that impacted Upper Arlington residents and questions that were being raised by fellow voters.  Pencilstorm will be posting their complete and unedited answers individually throughout October and reposting all their answers together in the first week of November. Answers will be posted in order they're received. Our sixth candidate, Brian Close, is featured below.

Brian Close

If the election were today, would you vote for or against the school levy and why?
As you know, the school levy is determined by the Upper Arlington Board of Education, not City Council.  However, I am a big supporter of the schools and I believe that we cannot have a strong community without strong schools.  I know this levy/bond is very expensive for most households (especially those on fixed incomes) and I question whether the levy and bond should have been separate issues, but I believe the schools were very transparent in their process, gathered community and professional input, and applied that input to meet their immediate needs.  I am for the levy.

What qualifies you to be on Upper Arlington City Council?
I offer the community the problem-solving skills I've acquired over the course of my legal and public career as applied to my perspective as an active resident that truly understands our community's problems.  I am a business and tax attorney at Dinsmore & Shohl helping family-owned, start-up and small businesses and their owners navigate the complex legal world.  For the last 10 years, my full-time job has been to bring two sides together over divisive issues, whether it is the negotiations of a contract, the sale of a business or helping a family with succession planning.  I am also actively involved in our community as a volunteer, serving as a youth sports coach, as a member of Rotary, serving on various committees supporting the schools, serving on the UA and Grandview Board of Tax Appeals, and as a Leadership UA alumnus.  This combination of training and community involvement make me uniquely qualified to unite this community on the issues that have divided us for the last few years.

If you had a magic wand and an unlimited budget, what infrastructure project you would implement?
One of my top priorities is to address our deteriorating roads, sidewalks, sewers and parks, but I feel our city should be able to handle a majority of these issues with careful and prudent planning and budgeting and without raising additional tax dollars.  One public project that I would support if it meant no increase in taxes or a diversion of existing tax dollars from core infrastructure projects, is a community center.  Over the last 20 years our residents have not supported a community center due in part to these reasons, but if we had a magic wand and an unlimited budget (and the land to do it) I think our community would greatly benefit from a central gathering place that could serve all ages, groups and activities within our community.  Unfortunately, without a location and without community backing, it can only exist in this fantasy-like scenario at this time.

Looking around Central Ohio, give an example of a community you think is doing it right and one that’s doing it wrong. What could Upper Arlington could learn from both? 
I think it is hard to compare Upper Arlington to any of the I-270 communities because of our distinct characteristics of a landlocked community where our schools and city are unified in a singular community, but some of our neighboring communities do provide some good examples of how a city's processes can make a difference.  I think both Dublin and the University Area have both shown us how careful planning can help alleviate some of the issues that arise from commercial development.  For example, the UAC has a master plan that addresses specific issues - height, density, size, setback, parking requirements and design guidelines - for certain key areas so both residents and developers know and understand the community's expectations and can plan accordingly.  This planning also allows the community to be involved earlier in the process and lessens the urgent and loud opposition occasioned by ad hoc zoning ushering in a more civil tone.  I don't want to name communities that are doing it wrong, but I think communities that have struggled over the last few years are those that don't support their local public schools and those that don't have a community-back plan for future growth and development.

At Pencilstorm, we all have a love of music. In that vein, what's your favorite album and why?
After reading this, I went on a camping trip with my daughter (Marley) in Hamilton, Ohio.  On the way down, she told me a story of how one of her friend's name is a combination of her two grandmothers' names.  I asked Marley if she knew where her name came from, to which she responded that it came from her maternal grandmother.  Noting that she was technically correct, I told her that her name was also influenced by another person - Bob Marley - and I started playing for her my favorite Bob Marley & The Wailers albums (Exodus and Catch a Fire).  From that music came a rush of memories to my college and law school days.  For the remainder of the two hour drive down, I started listening to all of my other favorite albums from my youth (U2 - Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby), high school (don't ask), and more recently (Zac Brown Band - The Foundation and Jekyll and Hyde).  As only music can do, each album took me back to the memories I hadn't recalled in years.  So I feel like the question isn't one of my favorite album, but one of my favorite time period of my life so far.  That I can't answer because each era is special for various reaons, so I will give it to the album that has been one of my favorites for the longest periods of time and from an artist that helped influence my daughter's name:  Bob Marley & The Wailers - Catch a Fire.

Pencilstorm would like to thank Brian Close for taking the time to answer our questions.  Learn more about Brian at his website: Pencilstorm is an independent news source and does not endorse any individual candidate.

In the coming days, we'll be resposting all the responses we've received in one blog, along with rationale behind why we asked what we did.

Local UA Politics coverage provided by Wal Ozello. You can email him at or try to catch him at Colin's Coffee. 

Check out coverage of all the candidates we've received responses from by clicking here.