No appointment made to vacant council seat

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(Posted Jan. 9, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The possibility exists that London city council’s Ward 3 seat will remain unfilled through the end of this year.

The seat became vacant in November when Anthony Smith resigned. The two-year term expires on Dec. 31 of this year.

The task of filling the vacancy first fell to the Madison County Republican Central Committee. On Dec. 6, the committee opted not to appoint Michael W. Norman, the one person who expressed interest in the seat. The job of filling the seat then went to the remaining members of city council. On Jan. 5, they, too, opted not to make an appointment. Once again, Norman was the only eligible person who expressed interest in the seat. (Other residents expressed interest but, because they live outside of Ward 3, were not eligible.)

In such cases, the Ohio Revised Code calls for the mayor to make the appointment. London Mayor Patrick Closser has decided not to make an appointment at this time.

“There’s not been a great deal of interest into that position. So, at this point, we will leave it vacated, let the citizens run for the position, and let the people decide,” Closser said.

The next full term for the Ward 3 position starts Jan. 1, 2024 and runs through Dec. 31, 2025. That term will be up for election in this year’s May primary election and November general election.

Norman announced at the Jan. 5 council meeting that he plans to run for the seat. Prior to council’s decision not to give him the appointment for the current term, Norman outlined the reasons he thought he would make a good Ward 3 council member. Those reasons fell into four categories: time, knowledge, influence, and love of the city.

“I think we, as a city, have reached an impasse where we have several issues that are vital to the growth and quality of life in our city, and they’re hitting us all at once,” he said. “The clock’s ticking. The issues need to be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Norman said he thinks city leaders will need to meet more often to tackle issues, something he said he would be willing to do.

He went on to say he has acquired knowledge of city business by regularly attending council and committee meetings, making public records requests, and researching various topics about which he and other citizens have concerns.

As for influence, he said, “I feel I have made some substantial influences over the years by providing information (to city leaders) that if I had not provided might have made a negative impact on the city.” As examples, he mentioned his push for council to post meeting videos online and his research into sanctuary city legislation in other communities.

Talking about his love for London, Norman said the city is big enough that it has almost everything it needs to be self-sufficient but small enough that everyone knows one another. He’s hopeful for a future in which the fire and EMS department are adequately funded and the city has a new police station and a new community center.

“I think, from what I’ve seen from the council that we have, is that there’s been a big movement to try to get all these things done. It excites me to see this, and I want to be a part of it,” he said.

None of the council members nor the mayor commented about their decisions against giving Norman the appointment.

At the end of the Jan. 5 meeting, council member Andy Hitt thanked Norman for his interest in the city and in the council position. He also thanked him for the research he has done on city issues. Council member Rich Hays said he echoed Hitt’s comments.

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