By Ian Preuth / Contributed by Deborah Haas and Hagit Limor
11:12 AM, Jan 27, 2011
8:55 PM, Jan 27, 2011
CINCINNATI - Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding announced Thursday thathe is resigning his seat on City Council.
Berding, who has been on City Council since 2005, held a newsconference at City Hall where he said after five years of doing twojobs, it is now time to focus on his job with the CincinnatiBengals and his family.
Berding said he's "not stepping away immediately, but soon." Oneof the issues he wants to have a vote on before he leaves office infour to six weeks is the city pension fund.
He said he's "fought for five years to make the city better" butis frustrated with how things are going on City Council. "It'sfrustrating because I don't think the citizens are being servedwell."
"It's not about thanks and reward, it's about results. I'vealways said I never worry about the next election, never worryabout anything except what kind of city are we gonna have for mykids and the next generation of Cincinnatians," said Berding. Andright now, that future doesn't look so good and I think that'sbecause we have elected officials concerned about the next electionand are afraid to make the tough choices because they're afraid itmight cost them their council seat."
Berding said citizens are frustrated with all the bickering andnonsense among elected officials and that status quo continues.
With only two-thirds of the luxury boxes sold at Paul BrownStadium, Berding said he needs to be able to focus 100 percent onhis job with the Bengals as Director of Sales and PublicAffairs.
"There's a lot of pressure when the team's not sold out and youknow you're the person responsible for sales, and you're spendinghalf your time trying to be a civic leader somewhere else," saidBerding.
The Bengals are coming off a 4-12 season and the possibility ofa dwindling fan base at Paul Brown Stadium. The team had sold out57 consecutive home games going into the 2010 season, but failed tosell out the final four games leaving many fans to consider whetherthey will renew for next year.
"The world of sports is difficult due to the economy," Berdingsaid.
Council member Chris Bortz is now responsible for findingBerding's replacement.
"The qualities I'd like to see: seasoned, older, experienced,gotten things done in the city before, maybe not in government, butin private and civic sectors. I would hope we could find someoneand someone will wanna do it. I will tell you, not a lot of takersreally," added Berding.
"He's a tenacious, hardworking, dedicated, committed publicservant. He's a skilled negotiator, hard charging and passionate.To lose somebody like that is a disappointment for the whole city,"said Bortz. "I think Jeff's made it clear that in addition topersona and professional pressures, it's disappointing toconstantly hit your head against a brick wall and see no progress.Not because the issues you're advancing are wrong, but because theyviolate someone else's agenda."
Statement from Jeff Berding:
I am announcing today that I have decided to resign my seat on Cincinnati City Council at some point in the coming weeks, well before the end of my term this November.
As most people know, while I have served on City Council for the last 5 years, I have simultaneously maintained a private sector job and worked hard to balance the demands of both important positions. It was never my desire to be a full-time politician, and have not done so. My employer was very generous to fully support me in my desire to serve the citizens of Cincinnati and the region, knowing that the Council would take me away from the office and my responsibilities a great deal.
However, after 5 years of doing both jobs, it is now time to return to a full-time focus on my private sector position.
I have considered whether I could scale back my time and energy at City Hall to better balance my dual responsibilities and maintain my commitment to the voters who supported me. However, I hope you will understand that for me, I am either all in or not at all. I ran with a pledge to lead for change, not just vote for change, so therefore, I believe it is better for someone to come in and take my place on Council who can devote the required time and energy.
I have complete confidence in Chris Bortz, who is my successor-designee under the City Charter, to identify an experienced leader who can immediately step in and continue my work.
I am not stepping away immediately - but soon. I still hope to conclude some important work on my legislative agenda, none more critical than changes to the Cincinnati Retirement System that will prevent its insolvency. This allows time to prepare a successor who can come into City Hall ready to lead.
I am not retiring from public life – only from elected office, and maybe not for good. I have begun work on a series of ballot issues to present to the voters this fall, and will continue that work as a volunteer civic leader. Cincinnati desperately requires change, and I believe that I can have more success directly appealing to the voters than I did with my colleagues, the Mayor and staff at City Hall.
The citizens of Cincinnati were kind to give me the opportunity to serve on City Council for 5 years. I worked honestly and diligently to the best of my abilities to make the City better. When I cast a vote, I always thought how it would affect my children and the next generation of Cincinnatians, not how it would affect the next election. I have always done what I thought was right for Cincinnati even if it meant taking positions that left me without a political party or were not popular with the media or special interest groups that dominate City Hall.
Cincinnati has so much going for it – and people deserve more from its elected officials. We can be a powerhouse City – and region – if we could put aside political self-interests and align all of our energies on solving obvious problems and growing our tax base. The status quo is bankrupting our City, and my only regret is that I was not more successful in bringing needed changes over the objections of the defenders of a broken (and broke) government.
I have enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with many citizens across the City. I know that they will keep up their efforts to make our City better. And I have been blessed to serve with Chris Bortz, who has become like a brother to me, and with my good friends Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel. Together the four of us worked closely to achieve a shared agenda of public safety, economic growth and fiscally responsible budgets. I know that with Amy Murray and my successor, these efforts will continue and I have high hopes for them.
I am particularly glad that I have had 2 years on Council with Roxanne Qualls, who I respect a great deal and in whom I have great confidence to be the kind of intelligent, strong leader this City needs. And I want to acknowledge the personal kindness shown me by two of our other new members, Charlie Winburn and Wendell Young, and wish them and their families well.
Turning my full attention to my private sector responsibilities offers great news for my family. I so much appreciate my wife Lindsay and my children Allie, Jack and Grace. Families of elected officials make many sacrifices and without much acknowledgement. I love and thank them for their patience and support. The time away from home on weekends and evenings will be much less, the games and performances less missed, the moments together less interrupted by phone calls, and the stories and comments on the Internet less hurtful to them. So you can see why this is a good transition.
After 5 years, I believe the people of Cincinnati know where I stand. I am honored that the voters elected me each and every time I ran to represent their aspirations, and I thank you and them for such support.
At St. Xavier High School the motto “Men for Others” influenced me greatly, and I have taken the message of community service and obligation of leadership very seriously and will continue to do so. Therefore, I can honestly say that I look forward to working with you in the future as we strive to make greater Cincinnati truly a GREATER CINCINNATI.