Former Hilliard City Council President Albert Iosue, who resigned from council Feb. 10, will remain on the May 7 primary ballot and campaign for a return to City Council, he said Feb. 14.
“At this time I do not plan to withdraw from the May primary,” he said. “It was the right time for a short break from council, but I plan to be back in January 2020, with citizen support.”
The petitions to run for election submitted by Iosue, a third-term Republican, and six others were certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections on Feb. 19, according to public-information officer Aaron Sellers. They are Democrats Christine A. Cottone, Deryck D. Richardson II and Cynthia Vermillion, and Republicans Pete Marsh, Bobby Joe Stepp Jr. and Omar Tarazi. A fourth Democrat, Jordan D. Smith, had filed, but was not certified.
At the time of his resignation and in the next few days thereafter, Iosue was not available for comment because he was out of the country, and it was unclear whether his resignation signaled a withdrawal from the Republican primary May 7.
Iosue said his decision was not related to the city’s civil lawsuit against former recreation and parks deputy director Heather Ernst, who was sentenced in November to one year in prison after pleading guilty to charges of theft in office.
Iosue’s daughter, according to court records, is to be a witness in the civil case.
“The last 15 months have been both challenging and rewarding (but) council has clear direction over the next nine months in the city-manager search, so I decided to take a short separation from council,” he said. “I plan to be back, with citizen support, after the transition of government.”
Last November, voters in Hilliard approved a city-charter amendment that will replace the strong-mayor form of local government with that of a city manager.
Mayor Don Schonhardt’s final term ends Dec. 31; a council-appointed city manager then will begin to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city.
Kelly McGivern, then the council vice president, announced Iosue’s resignation after City Council reconvened from an executive session Feb. 11.
Iosue was not present Feb. 11, according to David Ball, the city’s communications director. He also was not available for comment Feb. 12.
Iosue had emailed her his letter of resignation Feb. 10, McGivern said. She said Iosue first indicated he was considering resigning Feb. 8.
“It was a surprise,” McGivern said.
McGivern has assumed the mantle of council president, according to council rules.
A new vice president is expected to be chosen Feb. 25.
In his letter, Iosue wrote, “The past 11 years as a member of Hilliard City Council have been rewarding and memorable. For personal reasons, I have decided it is in my best interest to resign at this time and spend more time with my family.”
In the meantime, City Council is trying to replace Iosue for the rest of his term, which ends Dec. 31.
Ball said applications for the open seat would be due Feb. 25, and City Council likely would make an appointment before March 18.
To be considered, applicants must be registered to vote and have been a Hilliard resident for at least one year, Ball said.
Applicants must submit resumes and letters to Hilliard City Council, c/o Lynne Fasone, clerk of council, 3800 Municipal Way, Hilliard, OH 43026. Emails to email@example.com also would be accepted.
Meanwhile, three council seats are up for election. The seats have been held by Iosue, Marsh and Nathan Painter, who did not file a petition to seek re-election.
Because the Hilliard council primary filing deadline for Republicans and Democrats has passed, and Iosue does not plan to withdraw, whoever is appointed to the seat could run only as an independent or write-in candidate, according to Sellers.
“A candidate needs to formally withdraw if he is to be removed from the ballot,” he said. “If he does not withdraw and his petition is certified, then he would appear on the ballot.”
Three of the four Republicans in the May 7 primary will advance to the general election in November.
Because Smith’s petition was not certified, a Democrat primary no longer is necessary. All three Democrats who were certified will advance to the general election.
The board of elections said only 48 of the 74 signatures Smith submitted were valid. The Hilliard candidates were required to submit 50 valid signatures.