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Process Begins to Appoint Council President Zach Klein’s Successor

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Process Begins to Appoint Council President Zach Klein’s SuccessorPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The appointment process has begun for the individual who’ll soon take the city council seat currently occupied by President Zach Klein. Starting on Monday, November 20, the City Clerk’s office is accepting applications, which include a résumé and a narrative describing the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Columbus.

Klein, recently elected as Columbus City Attorney, will take his new position on January 1, 2018. Between now and then, members of council will review applications, schedule individual interviews with the applicants and hold public meetings.

On Monday, January 8, council members will lead another public meeting to consider the appointment of the a new member to the council, then recommending and eventually appointing a nominee.

The new councilmember will be ready to vote before council’s Monday night meeting on January 22.

This process has been vocally opposed by various groups in Columbus, including Everyday People for Positive Change (EDP). EDP, previously known as Represent Columbus, created the ballot initiative that aims to put ward representation on council. Campaign finance reform and ending the appointment process are two more goals of the initiative, which will appear on the May 2, 2018 primary ballot.

EDP pushed the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to write a letter to Columbus City Council detailing a case against them that reveals racial discrimination within the at-large electoral procedures established at this charter’s adoption in 1914. The letter implies the potential for litigation, urging council to assess the electoral process to avoid a “costly and lengthy” lawsuit.

More opponents are the group Yes We Can: Columbus Working Families, who had two members run for city council earlier in November: Will Petrik and Jasmine Ayres. Petrik is sitting this one out. Citing his friend Will Klatt, an Ohio Education Association organizer, he sees an inherent flaw in the appointment process.

“I am not planning to apply,” Petrik said in a message. “I share the same perspective as Will Klatt: ‘The appointment process is a completely corrupt process for filling vacancies. It has enabled candidates in bed with the Columbus Partnership and major developers to run the city. The city charter needs to be reformed and amended to allow for elections when politicians hop jobs while attempting to climb the political ladder.

Until that happens, I support the 4th most vote-getter Jasmine Ayres in the recent municipal elections to fill the position until new elections can be held and the people of Columbus can choose its council representative for that seat.’”

Out of the 23 percent of eligible voters that went to the polls, 12 percent voted for Ayres, who followed Brown (21 percent), Hardin (23 percent) and Tyson (24 percent) and came in fourth place. Ayres confirmed that she would be submitting her own application for appointment.

Applications are due by Friday, December 1 and noon. For more information on the appointment process and application instructions, click here.  

Follow CU for updates.

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