Childhood and Education
Shannon G. Hardin was born at St. Ann’s hospital and grew up on the far edge of Columbus in Southfield. Raised by his mother Kennetha and his father Oliver, Shannon attended Africentric K-8 and Columbus Alternative High School before heading south to Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Introduction to Public Service
As a young man, Shannon found his love for public service while interning in “The Mayor’s Action Center,” the precursor to 311. After seeing the long lines in the 2004 Election due to voter suppression, Shannon and his classmates helped start Youth at the Booth to increase the number of poll workers and engage young folks in the democratic process.
Prior to joining Council, Council President Hardin served as Mayor Coleman’s External Affairs Manager. Shannon’s efforts increased the City’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index to a perfect 100 out of 100. In addition to creating a more inclusive city for LGTBQ residents, Council President Hardin developed programs around community-based violence intervention, African-American male wellness, and anti-recidivism.
Council Career and Accomplishments
Shannon Hardin focuses on fostering an inclusive economy by building 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.”
- Dismantling Racism
- Marijuana Decriminalization: Recognizing how past marijuana laws primarily impacted black men, Council President Hardin led Council to pass 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, the City of Columbus no longer prosecutes low-level marijuana offenses.
- My Brother’s Keeper: Council President Hardin worked with former Mayor Coleman to create Columbus’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. My Brother’s Keeper aims to reduce opportunity gaps for young men of color through city-wide goals, service provider coordination, and collective action.
- Leveling the Playing Field for Minority-Owned Businesses: As Chair of the Small Business Committee, Council adopted the Columbus Disparity Study, which provides the foundation to increase the City of Columbus’s minority and female-owned business utilization.
- A New Vision for Transit: 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.
- Council President Hardin continues to work with partners to implement this transit-forward model for inclusive growth known as LinkUS.
- Structural Change
- Restructuring City Council: Under Council President Hardin’s leadership, Council advanced a bundle of reforms recommended by a citizen-led commission to improve accountability and neighborhood representation. Voters overwhelmingly approved this reform in May of 2018.
- Investing in Culture: Similarly, Council President Hardin drove the effort to nearly double public support for arts. The more than $6 million annual 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.
Shannon lives on Long Street in the historic Near East Side with his husband Ben, their son Noah E. Hardin-Zachrich, and their dogs, Teddy and Bella. Shannon is a proud member of Mount Olivet Baptist Church.