Paula Hicks-Hudson voted in as new Council presidentWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATED: With comments from Council members and Mayor Mike Bell.
Toledo City Council elected Paula Hicks-Hudson as its new president at a special meeting Feb. 26.
Hicks-Hudson, nominated by fellow Democrat Lindsay Webb, won the vote 8-4. Republican George Sarantou was the other nominee.
The four votes for Sarantou came from himself, Tom Waniewski, who nominated him, Rob Ludeman and D. Michael Collins. Waniewski and Ludeman are Republicans and Collins is an independent. The other eight Council members are Democrats.
After the vote, Sarantou moved to make the vote unanimous and that vote was 11-1 with Waniewski voting no.
Waniewski said he kept his vote with Sarantou because he was “the right guy for that job.”
“Paula is completely competent, without question, but George was the right guy,” Waniewski said, adding that he’s frustrated by members’ continued unwillingness to cross party lines.
Sarantou, who is term-limited for Council at the end of this year, said he accepted the decision.
“Council had to make a decision and I respect that and I wish President Hicks-Hudson the very best,” Sarantou said. “We live in a democracy.”
The special session was held before Council’s regular agenda review and a week after the Feb. 19 Council meeting at which Joe McNamara stepped down as Council president days after announcing he would run for mayor. But after a protracted session during which five votes failed to receive the needed seven majority, Council adjourned without choosing a new president. As determined by a rotating schedule, Councilman Shaun Enright served as president pro tempore for the week.
McNamara said he resigned as president because he wanted to keep political differences between himself and Mayor Mike Bell, who is planning to run for re-election, from affecting the work of City Council. Webb said things were “very tense” between Bell and the Council after McNamara officially entered the race Feb. 12.
Nominees for president at the Feb. 19 meeting were Hicks-Hudson, Sarantou and Adam Martinez.
Martinez, who was nominated by McNamara, said he decided to bow out of the race and support Hicks-Hudson.
“It certainly was never my intent for it to go as far as it did,” Martinez said. “On Thursday (Feb. 21) … I reached out to fellow colleagues to kind of stop the hemorrhaging and move forward together. We have bigger, more important issues than the presidency so I just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page.
“I’m extremely excited for her,” Martinez added. “I think she will do a phenomenal job.”
Hicks-Hudson, of District 4, became a Council member Jan. 11, 2011, after Council voted her in to replace Michael Ashford. The attorney later ran for and won her position.
After being sworn in, Hicks-Hudson said she and the Council would “work as a unit and work together to make sure that we take care of the people’s business.”
“It’s an opportunity to serve the people and to help Council become stronger,” Hicks-Hudson later added. “Not that we will always agree, but we want to be working toward a common goal. I think most of us that work in this particular position are doing it because we care about the city.”
She said her experience in state and local government and especially her background as a lawyer are what set her apart from other nominees and will serve her well as president.
“I’ve been working within city government not only as a lawyer but also as a legislative director and I think that is an addition that my predecessors didn’t have,” Hicks-Hudson said.
Bell said he looks forward to working with Hicks-Hudson as president.
“Paula is a very seasoned individual in governmental affairs. She’s done time with the city, she’s done time with the state and I think she’ll be an excellent president,” Bell said, adding that he didn’t foresee any difficulties in working with her.
“Absolutely not. It will be a pleasure,” Bell said. “We may not always agree on things, but she’s very logical in her thinking.”