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So You Want To Be A Columbus City Councilmember?

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea So You Want To Be A Columbus City Councilmember?Photo by Walker Evans.
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Columbus City Council is currently accepting applications for anyone interested in filling the seat left vacant by President Pro Tem A. Troy Miller, who will formally resign on Sept. 26. Applicants for the position must submit eight copies of their resume, as well as “a narrative of no more than 500 words describing the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Columbus,” according to a memo issued by Council President Andrew Ginther.

Ginther’s memo also provides a detailed timeline that City Council will follow in their selection process. So if you want to be a city councilmember, here’s what you can expect:

September 19

You had better have your application in by noon on this date, and plan on submitting all materials in person and on old-fashion hard copies. Council will not accept applications that are emailed or faxed. Also be aware that once you submit your application, all the information therein becomes a public record and can be obtained by anyone upon request. So make sure your 500 word narrative on Columbus’ greatest challenges and opportunities is free of embarrassing grammatical errors and that your resume includes only information you’re comfortable with all of Columbus knowing.

September 22-26

According to Ginther’s memo, between these dates, “Councilmembers may, at their discretion, schedule individual interviews with applicants for the Council vacancy.” So if you, like many job seekers in today’s economy, are nervous at the prospect of a single job interview, prepare for seven of them. On the other hand, after bombing an interview with Administration Chair Eileen Paley, you will have an opportunity to redeem yourself with Recreation & Parks Chair Hearcel Craig, and so on.

September 26

Now comes the moment of truth, the whittling-down of names. Having interviewed the applicants on their own, each councilmember will submit the names of three candidates they think made the cut to the City Clerk. The Clerk will then “compile a list of all applicant names submitted who henceforth shall be considered finalists for the vacancy.” You can tell that this step of the process is important because it contains the word “henceforth.”

October 2-3

Let’s say, for the sake of argument that your name is on that list of finalists and you receive a call from the City Clerk on Sept. 26 informing you of your henceforth consideration for the vacancy. Congratulations! But the interviews aren’t over yet.

On Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, Council will hold public meetings where members will interview the applicants in executive session. Don’t worry, your fate won’t be decided in these sessions. But once the executive sessions are completed and the public meetings adjourned, members of the media and the public may speak to the applicants. You could be asked about conceivably anything, but most likely you’ll get some questions about what you will do in office if you are ultimately selected. This might be a good time to remember your 500 words about the greatest challenges and opportunities the city is facing.

No need to panic about the prospect of facing public scrutiny before you’ve even reached the office. The people of Columbus are generally very nice. But they will want to know more about who their newest civic leader could be, and they are, after all, your potential employers.

Now might be a good time to point out that the interview process for this particular job never truly ends.

October 6

On Oct. 6, with all applicants having been interviewed, Council will enter into executive session and consider which candidate to appoint. After leaving executive session and resuming the public meeting, councilmembers will nominate applicants to fill Councilman Miller’s seat. One of those nominees might very well be you. After being nominated, a majority of the councilmembers must vote to appoint you to the office, after which you will be sworn in and take your place as the newest member of Columbus City Council.

Your first meeting as a councilmember will come on October 20, as Council will not meet on Columbus Day. That’s just fine, there’s no need to rush things. Take the time to do your homework and decide how you want to spend your time in office. You’ll have plenty of meetings to attend and votes to cast. After all, Councilman Miller had three years left in his term and if you win reelection in 2015, they’ll be yours to do with as you please.

For ongoing updates and discussion on the City Council vacancy, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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