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Columbus City Council Will Once Again Appoint New Members

Christopher Columbus statue in front of Columbus City Hall.
Gabe Rosenberg

Columbus City Council has released a timeline for filling two upcoming council vacancies, a controversial process updated by a recent amendment to the city charter.

A memo sent Friday from Council President Shannon Hardin says that the council will accept applications for both vacancies between November 13-26. Hardin says applicaants must submit eight copies of a résumé and a narrative "describing the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Columbus." The submissions have to be mailed or delivered in-person.

Council members will then interview applicants of their choice, pick their favorites, and make them available to the public at a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 9:30 am.

Last spring, Columbus residents overwhelmingly voted to add a public meeting to the vacancy filling process. That process was frequently criticized for taking place behind closed doors, and for moving too quickly.

It's become common for sitting council members to leave office early, and for other members to appoint their replacement. That gives them the benefit of incumbancy in the next election.

Currently, all of Columbus Council's seven members are Democrats.

For the seat vacated by Jaiza Page, who recently won a seat on the Franklin County Court of Common Please, Council will solicit public comment at a January 10 meeting and hopefully name a new member a week later. They plan do the same in March for the seat vacated by Michael Stinziano, who was elected as Franklin County Auditor.

The last time Columbus City Council appointed a new member was January 2018. Members chose realtor Emmanuel Remy to fill the seat vacated by Zach Klein, who was elected last year as Columbus City Attorney.

The decision spurred protests from the progressive group Yes We Can, which has long criticized Columbus City Council's charter as un-democratic. In the November 2017 contest for three council seats, Yes We Can candidate Jasmine Ayres received the fourth-highest number of votes. Ayres was named as one of 13 finalists for Klein's vacated seat, but was passed over by council members.