Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spizzerinctum: Mayor Jack Sennsenbrenner

The son of a local jeweler, Maynard E. “Jack” Sensenbrenner was born in Circleville, twenty-five miles south of Columbus, September 18, 1902. He followed his sweetheart, Mildred H. Sexauer, to California where he worked as a Fuller brush man and they married and returned to Columbus in 1927, settling on the Westside.

Although his political ads on television were uncommon and dismissed a gimmickry, in 1954 Sensenbrenner became the first Democratic mayor of Columbus in two decades. During his terms as mayor, he laid the groundwork for the massive growth of Columbus by requiring all neighborhoods that accepted city water service to be annexed into Columbus. Under his leadership Columbus grew by more than one hundred square miles.

An eccentric political character, his vocabulary included terms like spizzerinctum (meaning guts, backbone, chutzpah), which made Columbus the All-American City. He helped Columbus win the award in 1958.

Sensenbrenner was the mayor when Columbus was hit by a major flood in 1959; the rushing waters broke through the Dry Run Levee near Grandview Avenue on Columbus westside. He was quoted as saying that the broken dike was what cost him the election the following fall.

Sensenbrenner was unseated temporarily from 1960 to 1963 by Republican W. Ralston Westlake, but won back his seat. He served as Columbus's mayor from 1954 to 1960 and from 1964 to 1972.

“My biggest desire is seeing recreational plans move and to beautify the entire downtown section too. I'd sure like to see a convention center within the innerbelt, so people from all over the country could come here.

Columbus has gotta be alive and vibrant and dynamic, not just nightclubs, though you needs those too. But we've gotta have a lot of good culture ... you know, opera and all that stuff. Paintings too. I don't understand all those things myself, but they're good for people."

He was a visionary in many ways. Look around.

Arnett Howard

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