CINCINNATI - Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas will attend his last meeting Wednesday. During the session, Thomas will resign from council and, shortly afterward, his wife will be sworn in to take his place.
Thomas confirmed the details of his departure at a Tuesday morning press conference.
As was first reported on WCPO Digital Monday: Thomas is resigning from the group early. He is serving his final term due to term limits, and has about eight months left in his current term.
Thomas said he had considered leaving for a few months, but council's ongoing debate about how to avoid a $35 million deficit delayed his departure.
"I realized I wanted to step down sooner, but things occurred that prevented me from doing that," he said.
Thomas also laid to rest rumors about his future in politics. He will run next year for the 9th Ohio Senate District. The seat currently is held by Democrat Eric Kearney, who also is facing term limits.
"Contrary to what everyone is saying, I am not going to run for mayor," Thomas said. "I have aspirations to run for Sen. Kearney's seat in 2014."
Asked if he would endorse anyone in this fall's mayoral race -- which currently is between Democrats Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley -- Thomas answered with a joke.
"I'm trying to stay out of that," he said. "I'm trying to get my wife elected."
Thomas, 60, was first elected to City Council in 2005. Under council's rules, he selects which of his colleagues that get to name his replacement.
Thomas has chosen his fellow Democrats, Council Members Wendell Young and Yvette Simpson. The pair will abide by his wishes and appoint Pamula Thomas to his seat.
"We give an awful lot of weight to what the incumbent wants," Young said Wednesday.
By appointing his wife to fill his unexpired term, Cecil Thomas will give Pam Thomas the advantage of incumbency when she runs for election this fall.
Some Democratic activists dislike council's process, preferring any vacant seat instead go to the person who was the highest vote-getter in the previous council election from the same party.
"Those are things that can be discussed," he said. "I don't have an opinion one way or the other. I just follow what the rules are."
Tim Burke, who heads the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said Cecil Thomas should be proud of his record on City Council.
"Cecil's leaving council will be a real loss, especially when it comes to issues of safe streets," Burke said. "His knowledge of our communities and the needs of our citizens, his willingness to walk the streets in times of trouble and the work he has done to reduce crime have left a very impressive legacy."
A Democrat, Cecil Thomas is a North Avondale resident and a retired police officer who left the department after 27 years.
Also, Thomas is a former president of the Sentinel Police Association, which advocated for the interests of African-American officers.
After he retired from the CPD in 2000, Cecil Thomas became executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission.
Under Cincinnati's charter, council members are limited to serving four consecutive two-year terms, for a total of eight years.
Pam Thomas ran unsuccessfully for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in 2012. She received 47.9 percent of the vote, while Republican Tracy Winkler got 52.1 percent.
"Her work in both the court system and the with the School Board demonstrate her ability to have a similar impact on public policy in Cincinnati," Burke said. "Her strong run for Clerk of Courts last fall, when she carried approximately 70 percent of the vote in the city, bodes well for a successful campaign for City Council."