By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth’s Sixth Ward has a new member of City Council. After retiring to executive session and interviewing three people to fill the unexpired term of Sixth Ward Councilman Steve Sturgill, the remaining members returned and voted to award that position to Portsmouth attorney Jeff Kleha, of 617 Sycamore Street.
“It’s touching that four people voted for me,” Kleha told the Daily Times. “A position opened up and people encouraged me to apply and I thought I had the skill set. I’ve got experience being a member of the DD Board. I have an MPA (Master of Public Administration), and certainly the law degree helps, and I decided to step up and take the responsibility, and I’m glad they appointed me.”
City Council interviewed two other Sixth Ward residents in addition to Kleah - Will Mault and Tom Lowe.
“I want to thank the three individuals that put their names in for this position,” Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler said prior to the voting. “I know two of you pretty well. One I just met this evening and have known through the community. You all have very good qualities; a lot of good ideas. I think everybody pretty much answered the questions that we asked of them. I was satisfied with all three of you. Unfortunately there is only going to be one person that we can pick.”
Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows nominated Kleha. Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson nominated Lowe and Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb nominated Mault. The decision was made to bring the names up alphabetically, and Kleha’s name was entered first. After he received four of the six votes, there was not need to vote on either of the other two nominees.
Sturgill was not present for the voting having just presided over his last Council meeting. Sturgill was basically forced to resign when the state of Ohio bought his house because it is on the plan for the new Portsmouth Bypass project which should get underway in early 2015 if not by the end of 2014. Sturgill purchased a house in Wheelersburg which not only took him out of the Sixth Ward by the corporation limits of Portsmouth.
Kleha is in private practice working out of all of the court systems in Scioto County.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.