Columbus City Council makes new appointment and re-appoints two other members

Columbus City Council members filled its last vacant seat Monday night by appointing Democrat Hearcel Craig. But the appointment follows severe accusations that city council ignores Ohio’s Sunshine Laws and makes secret appointments.

In a unanimous vote, Hearcel Craig was appointed to Columbus City Council. Craig’s appointment comes after Republican mayoral candidate Bill Todd accused city council of ignoring the state’s Open Meetings Act. Todd said council members, in January, decided Andrew Ginther and Priscilla Tyson would fill vacant council seats before a public meeting was held about their possible appointments.

Craig, who was at Monday night’s council meeting, said his appointment process was fair.

“I think that there has been a good amount of deliberation in these decisions. I think that council has been very serious about these appointments because it really has to do with the lives of our citizens. And not only just our generation, but future generations. So those appointments are serious. And so having said that you know I think certainly we need to be able to stand the scrutiny,” Craig said.

Craig said he did not know before council voted Monday night he would be filling the vacant seat.

“I was not contacted. I was not, so, you know, again, you know, I was hopeful, but was not contacted. No one said you’re going to be the city councilperson,” Craig said. Todd contacted the state Attorney General’s office and the Columbus city attorney about what he calls possible illegal appointments.

The recently appointed Ginther and Tyson, turned in a single resignation letter Monday night hoping to avoid a possible expensive lawsuit from Todd. Ginther and Tyson were then re-appointed after a vote from council members. Council president, Mike Mentel called Ginther and Tyson’s actions selfless.

“They did this and I did not see this letter until very shortly before council. I was not part of that. And I do stand by the fact that I said do you really want to do this? Because there’s no basis. We have followed the letter of the law,” Mentel said.

But Todd said Ginther and Tyson’s actions suggest city council would not have been able to legally defend its recent appointments.

“Their nominations which had been made before any public scrutiny was not appropriate, that it was done in contradiction to Ohio’s Open Meeting law. And as a consequence they needed to go back and correct that process,” Todd said.

And Todd said he’s more concerned about what goes on in the closed meetings than he is the formality of appointments.

Councilman Andrew Ginther said he’s confident his constituents want him at city hall. And as far as a response to Todd’s remarks

“Nothing. The people of this city want me working for them and want me waking up everyday and going to bed every day thinking about how we can make this city better, safer and some place that people want to relocate businesses and move families to, so. And that’s all I’m focused on and I don’t have any response to him whatsoever,” Ginther said.

Todd said he is still considering legal action against city council.