PDT Staff Writer
It is looking more and more like at least three members of Portsmouth City Council will throw their hats in the ring to become the new President of Council.
That position became available Friday morning when John Haas, President and Fifth Ward Councilman, stepped down to apply to become the new Portsmouth City Solicitor, replacing Mike Jones, who resigned to become magistrate of the Scioto County Domestic Relations Court under newly-elected Judge Jerry Buckler.
Former Portsmouth Mayor and now Fourth Ward Councilman James Kalb told the Times Saturday he is definitely interested in becoming President of Council. He said he is aware that others are seeking that position as well.
First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson sent an email to his fellow Council members Monday.
“With the resignation of fellow member of Council John Haas we have a decision to make in the near future as to whom shall serve as Council President,” Johnson said. “I should like to be considered by each of you for this position; and provide you with the following.”
Johnson then makes a case for himself.
“The position of Council President takes time. The Council President is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Revolving Loan Committee, Nuisance Board of Appeals, Hardship Appeals Committee and Board of Housing Appeals. In addition, the President is responsible for representing Council’s interest to the Mayor (future City Manager), City Auditor, City Solicitor and department heads; managing the City Clerk; being available for budget sessions and meetings with the audit team and more. The President should also serve obtain and provide Council with information from the Office of the Mayor (City Manager) and department heads for Council to better understand our finances, goals and internal issues.”
Johnson said, being retired, he has the time to dedicate to those requirements. For that same reason, the man who would have stepped into that job almost automatically, Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler, took himself out of the running Friday when he said his employment would not make it possible for him to attend committee and board meetings through the day. As soon as the Daily Times reported Saddler’s decision, other members of Council began to show an interest.
“I also have a strong working knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order and Rules of Council. In addition, I feel strongly that Council President appointments should be coordinated with other members of Council prior to the appointment. The Council President is responsible for nominating two members of the City Planning Commission, the entire Board of Design and Review, the entire Shade Tree Commission, two members of the Cultural Affairs Panel, and the entire Revolving Loan Committee,” Johnson continued. “And, as well, I believe that, should I be chosen, I should not introduce legislation but should recommend such to each of you privately; if I feel strongly about any potential legislation.”
Johnson closed out by saying, “Finally, I also realize that a Council President should not engage in nor encourage controversy. He/she should always work to represent the City positively and be deliberate in representing the consensus of Council. It would be my honor to serve as Council President; and I pledge to you that I would not only adhere to what I have stated, above, but will also look to devote the time necessary to accomplish these and other responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, Sixth Ward Councilman Steve Sturgill is also expressing an interest.
“If someone wants to nominate me, I would be interested in doing it,” Sturgill said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to make an inquiry about it with all the other Council members, but if someone feels like I can fill that role, I’d be more than happy to do it.”
Sturgill pointed out that anyone elected to that position would need the majority of the remaining five members votes.
“He would have to have three votes,” Sturgill said. “But I would be interested. I think we need to have someone in that position who is going to understand the challenges that face the city over the course of the next several years. Although I’ve only been there a year, I’m still very comfortable meeting that challenge.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org