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BY JOE WESSELS
Loveland Local News
LOVELAND, Ohio — Seven members will be voting again on Loveland City Council starting Tuesday after a seat empty since August gets filled.
Former Council candidate Kent Blair, who had originally run for City Council but took himself off the ballot before the election, will fill the seat vacated in August by former Mayor Mark Fitzgerald. The former mayor was facing a recall election unless he resigned from Council, which he did just hours before a Board of Elections deadline.
“I selected Kent because he shares my commitment to community engagement and transparency,” said Mayor Kathy Bailey, in a press release earlier today. “He is committed to working with this new Council to make the city proud of the work we do.”
The seat sat vacant after a deadlocked City Council could not agree on who would fill the unexpired term, which ends in 2019. City ordinance dictates the mayor can appoint an open seat if Council fails to do so within 30 days. But because the city had been without a mayor because of the timing of Fitzgerald’s departure and a clerical error that neglected to announce that August special Council meeting by a required time prior to the meeting, the meeting’s actions were not legally binding. Because Fitzgerald opted to resign outside the meeting, via a letter to the Council’s clerk, his resignation was binding – but the appointment of Councilwoman Angela Settell as mayor was not. Coupled with a Council impasse, left the city without someone in that position until the tie could be broken. The recent election of Neal Oury and Tim Butler, along with the re-election of Rob Weisgerber and Ted Phelps – who ran on a slate and were supported by the Loveland Community Heartbeat political action committee, or PAC – cleared the deadlock.
Blair had dropped out of the race amid rumors he had been asked to do so to clear the way for a clean win of the slate, something Blair has denied publicly while speaking at Council’s open forum. Online clamoring had been building to nominate Andy Batemen who had finished fifth in the recent election. Batemen had said he was not asked to fill the position but was open to it. It was unclear if he applied for the position.
“I appreciate and thank all of the candidates who applied,” Bailey said. “This was a very tough decision, but I think Kent will be a great addition to the new Council, and I am excited to work with him.”
Blair works at U.S. Bank as an investment advisor and broker. He has a child who attends Loveland High School and has coached soccer in the community for many years.