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Council shoots down 'resign-to-run' charter amendment

Then council members Wendell Young and Steve Goodin at a Cincinnati City Council meeting in 2021.
Posted at 7:35 PM, Sep 01, 2021

A proposed “resign-to-run” charter amendment, which would have required Cincinnati City Council members and mayors to give up their seats before running for office outside the city, failed Wednesday without ever hitting a ballot.

Councilmember Liz Keating, who proposed the amendment, said it would have strengthened public trust in Cincinnati’s embattled local government.

Former councilmembers P.G. Sittenfeld, Jeff Pastor and Tamaya Dennard all lost their appointments after allegedly promising favorable votes to local land developers in exchange for donations. The amendment, Keating argued, would prevent politicians from using one office to finance their run for the next.

“The only reason I am here on council is because I was appointed to replace a suspended council member who was arrested on federal corruption charges,” Keating said Wednesday afternoon. “So my number one goal here is to fight that corruption and rebuild that trust for Cincinnatians.”

But other councilmembers said the amendment didn’t get to the heart of the problem, and it didn’t have public support.

“I’ve seen other people run for other offices while currently council members, and I have not seen anything that would convince me they’ve been unable to handle their council duties,” said Councilmember Wendell Young.

Councilmember Steve Goodin said no members of the public spoke in favor of the amendment, which convinced him it didn’t meet their needs.

University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven said that although similar legislation exists across the country, resign-to-run is still unusual.

“For the most part, states don’t limit your capacity to run for another office from the office you’re in now,” he said. “If you have a talented person in office who has a lot of support, it’s highly likely they’re going to consider running for other offices, and this proposal is going to drive them prematurely from serving the people of Cincinnati.”