Columbus City Council soon will begin the application process to replace two departing members.

Columbus City Council soon will begin the application process to replace two departing members.

Council spokesman John Ivanic said that beginning the first or second week of December, applications will be sought for the seats currently held by Michael Mentel and Charleta Tavares.

Mentel, the council president, announced last week he would resign effective the first meeting in January.

Charleta Tavares was elected to represent the Ohio Senate's 15th District in the general election. Both are the longest-serving members of council after being appointed in January 1999.

Andy Ginther and Priscilla Tyson will become the council members with the most seniority, meaning one likely will be named president.

Some neighborhood leaders say the two departures are a real blow to council, which will lose a lot of institutional memory.

"Just from a personal point of view, it's sad to see council members go because there's a steep learning curve for the new council members, to understand each community's needs and perspectives," said D Searcy, a longtime member of the Clintonville Area Commission.

Dave Paul, president of the Northland Community Council, said Mentel's and Tavares' exits "present an interesting time in terms of council and its functioning."

"The senior leadership seems to be thinning, to say the least," he said.

Meanwhile, one community activist said the current appointment process presents a good opportunity for council to select someone "outside the system."

"I would like to see somebody with some juice in the community, not a party person necessarily," said James Moore, chairman of Keep Council Open. "I'd like to see a community leader."

Moore's group fought unsuccessfully against Issue 4, a charter change that was passed on the Nov. 2 ballot. The amendment allows council to meet behind closed doors in executive sessions for specific reasons, including the discussion of council appointments.

"There are two seats opening up," he said. "This is a chance to bring in new points of view."

Moore also is leading the charge to create a ward system for city council, which would include seven wards and four at-large seats. There is no specific timeline for that ballot initiative.

He said that dynamic would help spread out the representation and limit the opportunity for favoritism.

"They'd probably choose a community leader, at least within that particular ward," he said.