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Hamilton County Replaces All Its SORTA Board Members

Michael Keating

Hamilton County Commissioners have named six new people to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) board. They replace all of the county's six previous appointees whose terms had expired.

The new board members could be at the transit agency committee meetings scheduled for Tuesday and the full board meeting Feb. 20.
The commission is apparently sending a message that it wants transit in the region to go in a different direction.

Commission President Todd Portune said he wants them to focus on creating a more regional transit system.

"That we need to move in a direction toward a three state, eight-county, and funded by three states and eight counties, integrated, multi-modal transit system," Portune said.

The new Hamilton County SORTA Board appointees are:

  • Blake Ethridge
  • Robert Harris
  • Thaddeus Hoffmeister
  • Allen Freeman (from Clermont County)
  • Pete McLinden (from Warren County)
  • Kathleen Wyenandt (from Butler County)

"The appointment of these new members, I think this has the capacity frankly to be transformational with respect to the manner in which SORTA operates, the vision that SORTA embraces and the direction that SORTA will go," Portune said.
Commissioner Denise Driehaus said these are some of the most important appointments the board has approved.

"Appointing people that will represent the county well, but also have kind of a strategic, long-term vision for what all that we could be as a public transit system," Driehaus said.

The SORTA Board has been discussing placing a county-wide sales tax on the ballot to fund the agency.  

Metro is currently funded in large part by Cincinnati's earnings tax. But the agency has said that is not a sustainable business model.  The sales tax, if approved by voters, would replace the earnings tax.

But Portune said last week he's leery of that proposal because he says it would only fund more of the same.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley appoints seven members of the SORTA board with the approval of council.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.