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Cincinnati City Council Gets A New Member

New Cincinnati City Council Member Betsy Sundermann taking the oath of office Wednesday evening at City Hall.
Jay Hanselman
New Cincinnati City Council Member Betsy Sundermann taking the oath of office Wednesday evening at City Hall.

Cincinnati City Council officially has a new member. Republican Elizabeth "Betsy" Sundermann was sworn in Wednesday evening after being appointed to replace Amy Murray, who is leaving to take a job in D.C.

Sundermann is an attorney and has been serving as a magistrate for Hamilton County Probate Court Judge Ralph Winkler.

She told an audience Cincinnatians want a government who listens to them. She said her focus will be on jobs, opportunities and safe neighborhoods.

"I will fight for Cincinnatians, who want to work hard, get ahead and live a better life," Sundermann said. "I will stand up for the citizens who help our community prosper and thrive. I will fight for all of you. If we work together, we can rise above the chaos and solve the big problems in our city without division, and instead with common sense and reason."

Sundermann was raised in Hyde Park, and has degrees from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

She's married to David Laing. They have two children and live in East Price Hill.

Laing now works in the city solicitor's office. Before that he was an aide to Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld and Mayor John Cranley.

Murray and a committee had selected Sundermann last week to fill the seat.


There was some drama surrounding the appointment as council members and Murray successor designees Christopher Smitherman and Jeff Pastor reportedly preferred another candidate to fill the seat. Murray also reportedly threatened to change her city hall paperwork to allow another council member to make the appointment.

A series of conversations and meetings Monday apparently resolved the matter.

Murray is leaving council to be the director of small business programs for the U.S. Department of Defense. It's a political appointment and serves at the will of the president. She starts that job in Washington on March 16.

Murray was praised by her fellow council members Wednesday evening for her service and her friendship.

"I told you earlier today I'm going to miss you very much, I count you a great friend," said Council Member David Mann. "I count you as the epitome of what public service should be. You come to meetings prepared and you present your point of view very well.  And the city is the better for that."

Council Member Wendell Young said party affiliation made no difference to Murray in trying to get things done.

"You've had the kind of career here that I absolutely admire," Young said. "I especially like the way you've demonstrated that you can work on a project and try to make it succeed, even though you don't believe the project should exist. I think that's huge. I think it says a lot about your character, it says a lot about your dedication to service."

Meanwhile, Sittenfeld is still working to fill the open seat of Council Member Tamaya Dennard, who resigned this week after being charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly selling her votes on council.

Sittenfeld announced the criteria for the selection Tuesday and said he hopes to make a selection by the end of the month.

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.