© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Longtime Springfield mayor steps down early

Six people sit at a raised wooden dias, with six flags standing behind them in front of a wood paneled wall.
Mayor Warren Copeland seated in the middle at a Springfield City Commission meeting.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, who has served on the Springfield City Commission for 35 years, will retire on Thursday.

Copeland said in a statement that he's ending his term early to focus on his health and family.

Copeland was appointed to the commission in 1988, then elected to the seat the following year. He served as Springfield mayor from 1990 to 1994, and again from 1998 until now.

He also worked as a professor of religion and director of urban studies at Wittenberg University. He was honored with the university’s most prestigious teaching recognition, the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995.

Earlier this year, Copeland said he intended to step down after the completion of his term this December. His wife, Clara Coolman Copeland, told WYSO he has been hospitalized to be treated for an illness, which is why he chose to step down early.

Assistant Mayor Rob Rue, who ran unopposed for mayor in this week's election and won, will finish Copeland’s term. He’ll be sworn in as mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

“We just appreciate the mayor kind of looking at the responsibility of the commission and realizing that he needs to focus on his health and his family, and allowing the city to make preparations to go through the process of filling the seat that would be open,” Rue said.

Rue said he’s learned a lot from Copeland, and admired his commitment to his South Side neighborhood.

"And it definitely gave Springfield a voice in neighborhoods that maybe lacked a voice," Rue said.

Rue also said he believes government leaders shouldn't hold a seat so long.

“There could have been maybe a time when Warren could have reevaluated and maybe decide to open a seat up to where somebody else could offer an opportunity to help lead," Rue said. "That's my opinion.”

Copeland said he will forever be indebted to Springfield and its citizens.

“As this chapter of my life closes, I know the next chapter will see me involved in the community I love so dearly,” Copeland said in his statement. “Thank you to the members of this community for allowing me this opportunity to serve.”

To fill Rue’s vacant commission seat, the city of Springfield will accept applications for city commissioner candidates. The member selected will complete the term of Rue’s vacated seat, which expires on Dec. 31, 2025.

Applications will be accepted until end-of-day Nov. 15. They can be submitted through the Springfield city government website.

City commissioners will make a decision and pick a candidate in December.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943