Council’s Democratic Appointees ‘An Outrage’ According to Republican Leader

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Democratic city officials are applauding two appointments Thursday to the Columbus City Council. Council President Matt Habash resigned after 14 years and council member Mary Jo Hudson has accepted a position with Governor Strickland’s administration. President Pro Tem Mike Mentel says the new appointees, Andy Ginther and Priscilla Tyson, are the best stewards to represent Columbus. But a local Republican leader says their selections are nothing more than politics as usual at city hall.

Council member Kevin Boyce lauded the two new Democratic members at a ceremony Thursday at City Hall.

“We’re honored and blessed and pleased to present to you today Andy Ginther and Priscilla Tyson two candidates that are ready to take our city to the next level,” Boyce said.

Ginther is a member of the Columbus school board; Tyson has held executive positions with National City Bank, Ohio Health and City Year Columbus. But Doug Preisse, executive committee chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party sees the appointments differently.

“I think it is outrageous that once again Council has missed the opportunity to look at a qualified Republican,” Preisse says. “Or how about just an Independent?”

The city council has the authority to replace its members who resign – and the Democratic body always chooses Democrats. That’s ironic to Preisse who says Democrats have done a lot of complaining about one-party rule. More troubling, he says, is the pattern that’s occurred for years and years on the council: A member is first appointed to fill a vacancy, then runs in the next election, and wins.

“There’s only one member of the city council of the whole bunch down there who was ever elected out right and got on Council by their own rights before being appointed. It’s a self-fulfilling, self-appointing little club down there and it’s really time that this community took a close look at how this closed and insular club keeps itself going like that.”

Preisse calls it the Incumbency Protection Plan. But Councilmen Mentel says voters are simply affirming the choices the council has made.

“The public always has the opportunity at the ballot to verify whether that selection is correct,” Mentel says. “And from my recollection the citizens of Columbus have agreed with our process – have agreed with those selections – and have agreed that those individuals are the best qualified to be the stewards of this city.”

But this fall the outcome could be different. Republican Preisse says the GOP is running a slate of five competent candidates. He says there will be some very competitive races.

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