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P.G. Sittenfeld lists his priorities for choosing Tamaya Dennard's successor

City councilmember resigned Monday in wake of corruption charges
Posted at 2:03 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 20:41:24-05

CINCINNATI — P.G. Sittenfeld says he's looking for a bridge builder and an experienced leader to fill Tamaya Dennard's City Council seat. He also wants someone who reflects diversity and can win an election.

While other councilmembers want a woman in the job, Sittenfeld wasn't gender specific Tuesday in announcing his five priorities for picking Dennard's successor. There is only one woman remaining on the nine-seat panel after Dennard resigned Monday in the wake of her Feb. 25 arrest on federal corruption charges.

Sittenfeld told WCPO 9 News he plans to balance his obligations to choose responsibly with other people's desires for him to act quickly. Under city council rules, Dennard had designated Sittenfeld, her political mentor, to fill her seat if it became vacant.

“I, of course, am going to be very thoughtful about this, but I also think there’s one expectation that people want this to happen in a fairly quick amount of time," Sittenfeld said. "I welcome input from any and everyone ... We’ll be considering a good number of names, but again we’ll filter it through who really meets those five criteria that I’ve outlined.”

Sittenfeld said he has candidates in mind but wouldn't identify them.

“They’re in my head, but they will stay there for just now. As soon as I’m ready to share names publicly, either a group of finalists or the individual person, I will let you know,” he said.

“My obligation is to find the best person and the right person for this moment and for the future of Cincinnati and I will know them when I found that.”

Sittenfeld has 30 days to choose or the power to fill Dennard's seat would go to the full council.

City council currently consists of four white men, three African American men and one white woman. As Amy Murray leaves Wednesday to take a job in the Trump administration, Probate Court Magistrate Betsy Sundermann will take her place. Sundermann's appointment was announced Tuesday.

Dennard was the only African American woman on council, and both David Mann and Wendell Young said Monday that they prefer an African American woman to succeed her.

"This has not been the best of times for city council, right?" Mann told WCPO 9 News. "So we need someone of impeccable qualifications. Somebody who is a female, somebody who is African American, somebody who can step into that seat immediately and have a positive impact."

Young had the same idea.

"I do believe it should be a female. I prefer an African American female," Young said. "It should be someone who has credibility in the black community, who is electable, a person with some life experience. I think we need to be very thoughtful but move quickly."

RELATED: Dennard's stolen car crashes into home in East Walnut Hills.