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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.

Thomas to leave council, appoint wife as successor

Democrat Cecil Thomas made official today what he told WVXU two months ago – that he will resign from Cincinnati City Council, have his wife, Pam Thomas, appointed to replace him, and run for the Ohio Senate in 2014.

His resignation will take effect after Wednesday’s council meeting.

Thomas, in a press conference this morning at the law office of Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, said that his wife would be sworn in after the Wednesday meeting.

“As of Wednesday, that will be my final one, tomorrow,’’ said Thomas, who was first elected to council in 2005 and is prevented from running for re-election this year by Cincinnati’s term limits law.

Thomas – a former Cincinnati police officer and executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission – said that, next year, he will run for the 9th Ohio Senate District seat now held by Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, who will be term-limited out in 2014.

This year, though, Thomas said, “I plan to work diligently to get my wife elected.”

There was some speculation Thomas might run for Cincinnati mayor this year, but he made it clear today that he is not going to enter that race; and is not supporting any candidate for mayor at this point.

Under the city charter, each council member designates one or more of his or her colleagues to choose a replacement should he or she leave office early.

In Thomas’ case, fellow council Democrats Wendell Young and Yvette Simpson are the designees.
Young sat by Thomas’ side at the press conference, and told reporters that he and Simpson will honor Thomas’ wishes and appoint her to his council seat.

Thomas said there is “no guarantee” that his wife will win an endorsement from the Democratic Party. But it is likely that she will.

Pam Thomas, who works as an administrator for the Cincinnati Public Schools, ran for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts last year. She lost that race to Republican incumbent Tracy Winkler, but took 47 percent of the vote county-wide.

“My wife did well in that clerk of courts race,’’ Thomas said. “She got over 70 percent of the city vote.
“Some people have said she ran to get this appointment, but that is not the case,’’ Thomas said of his wife of 32 years. “But that is not the case. She ran to win.”

Thomas said his wife has “impeccable” qualifications for the job.

“I can assure the public that the kind of thinking I brought to council and to the people of Cincinnati – a lot of that came from my better half,’’ Thomas said.

Thomas will leave council as chairman of the Public Safety Committee. It will be up to Mayor Mark Mallory to choose a replacement; and there is speculation that is likely to be Young, who is running for re-election to council this year.

Cecil and Pam Thomas live in North Avondale and have four children and four grandchildren.
Thomas said that, once he leaves council, Wednesday, he will “take a break for a while.”

“I’ve got some tree limbs to clear out of my yard,’’ Thomas said.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.