Huber council, mayor spar over vacant council seat

McMasters said he would appoint previous candidate if current councilman resigns.

Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters — facing criticism from some city council members for failing to fill a vacant seat — this week offered two options for doing so, including one proposal that asks for the resignation of a current member.

The Ward 5 seat has been vacant since the resignation of Tracy Dudley in January.

McMasters on Tuesday outlined actions the council could take in order to fill the seat, which sparked reactions from council members.

“If you had any love for this city and her residents, you would comply with the city’s charter in appointing a Ward 5 council member to represent the voice of the residents,” wrote Huber Heights City Councilwoman Janell Smith in an email. “… This community has suffered long enough. We deserve better than this.”

Huber Heights City Councilman Glenn Otto said it seemed as if McMasters had lost focus of what was important within the community.

“What I believe that you fail to understand is that the people of Ward 5 deserve representation, and that representation should come from someone who is not only willing, but earnest, in their desire to hold the seat and move our city in a direction that they believe will be beneficial to not only the ward, but the city as a whole,” Otto wrote.

A motion to appoint Eva Newby failed on Feb. 22 after three councilmen, Tyler Starline, Glenn Otto and Richard Shaw, voted against the measure. Smith abstained from the vote.

Councilman Ed Lyons that night questioned if Newby, a black woman, would get fair consideration from the council.

During the same meeting, a motion to appoint Jerry Wamsley to the vacant council seat failed 4-3.

When council did not appoint someone, the responsibility to make the decision moved to McMasters.

On Tuesday, McMasters sent an email to council members giving them options for resolving the issue with the vacant council seat. The council, during a special work session, could pass a motion with five votes asking the mayor to nominate one of three candidates, which include Newby, Wamsley and Michael Urig, also interviewed by the council for the vacant seat. If the council has five votes for one candidate, McMasters said he would appoint that person to the council.

The second option is for Lyons to resign, and McMasters would appoint Newby.

McMasters said in the email he has delayed considering Newby and Wamsley because of Lyons’ public “accusations,” but he has not eliminated the the two candidates as contenders for the council seat.

“I’ve not eliminated either, but I anticipate it may take a couple of months before I personally would consider either,” McMasters wrote. “This is true even if one or the other withdrew their application.”

The council vote on whether to appoint Newby to the Ward 5 council seat was taken after Lyons questioned his colleagues about their willingness to appoint a black woman to the vacant seat on council. That prompted McMasters to say that “Ed is about the stupidest person I think I ever met and a sleazeball.”

Lyons on Wednesday said McMasters’ failure to appoint someone to the vacant council is also a failure to fulfill his responsibility as mayor.

“I think this is typical of our mayor, who tries to lay the blame and responsibility of doing his job onto other people,” Lyons said.

Under the city charter, the council had 30 days from Dudley’s resignation, submitted to council Jan. 25, to appoint a new Ward 5 member. Once the council failed to make the appointment, the mayor has the power to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

McMasters said he wanted qualified Ward 5 residents who want to be on the city council to contact him.

“I am interested in residents who can lucidly discuss issues of the city and the positions I’ve taken, including why they believe those positions are right or wrong,” McMasters said.

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