Toledo City Council called it quits Tuesday night and went home after five unsuccessful votes to select a new president after Joe McNamara relinquished the post.
Mr. McNamara, who resigned because of his mayoral campaign but remains a councilman, said the deadlock over selecting a new leader was “certainly a disappointment” but stressed it was not detrimental to the city government.
In the event of the mayor’s resignation or death, the council president would become mayor.
The divided council adjourned without a new president, although Councilman Shaun Enright will act as president pro tem through Feb 28. Councilman Paula Hicks-Hudson will be president pro tem in March until someone is elected. Council could take up nominations and fresh rounds of voting during its next regular meeting on March 5.
Ms. Paula Hicks-Hudson and Councilmen Adam Martinez, both Democrats, and Republican George Sarantou were each nominated to be president but none received the needed seven majority votes.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson was supported by herself, Mr. Enright, and Tyrone Riley, Steven Steel, and Lindsey Webb, all fellow Democrats.
Democratic Councilman Adam Martinez was supported by himself, Mr. McNamara, and Mike Craig, also Democrats.
Mr. Sarantou received votes from himself, Republicans Rob Ludeman and Tom Waniewski, and independent D. Michael Collins.
In the first round, Mr. Enright cast his vote for Mr. Sarantou but then switched back to his own party for the four subsequent votes and supported Ms. Hicks-Hudson. There were then identical votes before a majority of council decided to adjourn for the night without a president.
After the fourth vote, with no compromise in sight, Mr. Craig moved to adjorn, but it failed.
Council then took a 10-minute break. When members returned, Mr. Craig again nominated Mr. Martinez; Mr. Collins again nominated Mr. Sarantou, and Ms. Webb again nominated Ms. Hicks-Hudson. Before she made the final nomination of Ms. Hicks-Hudson, Ms. Webb asked Mr. Martinez to withdraw, saying “it seems fairly obstructionist at this point.”
Mr. Craig shot back at her, suggesting she was the obstructionist for her previous calls for Mr. McNamara to step down as council president.
“Really? Obstructionist?” he said across the council dais. “Obstructionist is calling for the resignation of the sitting council president.”
Her motives for wanting Mr. McNamara out of the president’s chair were unclear. However, she said he had set the precedent to step down as president while running for higher office when he did so in 2010 during his unsuccessful primary race against Edna Brown for Ohio’s 11th Senate District.
After the fifth vote, with no change from the previous votes, Mr. McNamara moved to adjourn, and it was approved 7-5. Ms. Hicks-Hudson, Mr. Riley, Mr. Sarantou, Mr. Steel, and Ms. Webb voted to stay in session.
After the meeting, none of the three council president hopefuls said they would withdraw. Mr. Sarantou said he was most qualified; he said he’s worked with three mayors and across party lines with other council members, and he was chairman of the finance committee for many of his 11 years as an at-large councilman. He is term-limited and cannot not run for re-election this year.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson, a lawyer, was appointed to the District 4 council seat in January, 2011, after Michael Ashford was elected to the 48th House District in the Ohio General Assembly. Ms. Hicks-Hudson was elected to a full four-year term in November, 2011, defeating Green Party candidate Anita Rios. District 4 includes central-city Toledo and the Old West End.
Mr. Martinez, an at-large councilman who is a commercial real estate broker, was first elected in November, 2009. He is up for re-election this year.
Council ran through its regular meeting Tuesday with Mr. McNamara as president before he stepped down. Council Tuesday voted 12-0 to approve spending $40,000 of taxpayer money toward the city’s share of a jointly funded “sustainability plan.” The study will cost from $112,250 to $145,250.
Council put off votes on dueling proposals to soften requirements for a controversial $200 water account deposit.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.