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January 14, 2011

Neither out candidate gains a Columbus council seat

Columbus--Columbus City Council on January 10 filled its two vacant seats, although neither of the two LGBT finalists were selected.

Councilors chose Michelle M. Mills and Zachary M. Klein to fill the seats vacated by Charleta Tavares, who was elected to the Ohio Senate, and former council president Michael Mentel, who left to focus on his family and career.

Out of 49 applicants for the two seats, Stonewall Columbus executive director Karla Rothan and Outlook publisher Michael Daniels made it to the final selection process. Their names were put forward by councilors Priscilla Tyson and Hearcel Craig, respectively.

Before the first round of winnowing, former Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio president Russ Goodwin had also applied.

Mills, who was one of only two applicants to be advanced to the final selection round by two council members, is the executive director of the St. Stephen’s Community House.

Klein is the deputy chief of legal services for the Ohio attorney general.

In addition to Rothan and Daniels, they also beat out some big political names for the seats, including former Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce, and State Reps. Dan Stewart and Marian Harris, who both left the Ohio House of Representatives because of term limits.

Boyce was also put forward by two council members.

The Columbus city council has previously had an openly lesbian member: Mary Jo Hudson, who served from September 2004 to January 2007, when she was appointed director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. She just left that position, which new Gov. John Kasich filled with his lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor.

Ten other openly gay or lesbian Ohioans hold elected offices, including city councilors, judges, school board members and one state representative, Nickie Antonio of Lakewood. Another nine have held office in the past.

“From the very onset of the application process, I was impressed with the quality and caliber of all who applied to fill the vacancies on council,” said council president Andrew Ginther. “On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank those who submitted résumés and took part in the interview process. I am certain that Councilmembers Mills and Klein will serve with distinction as we work to create an even better community to live and raise our families.”

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