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One of these 12 people will join Cincinnati Council next year

Entrance to Council of Cincinnati
Becca Costello
/
WVXU

Twelve people are still in the running to join Cincinnati City Council next year. The final choice will fill an upcoming vacancy when Greg Landsman resigns to join Congress as Representative for Ohio's First District.

Thirty-eight people submitted full applications to Council Member Reggie Harris, who will make the final selection. Two withdrew their applications and Harris has narrowed the list to twelve candidates:

  • Gavi Begtrup
  • Galen Gordon
  • Jaime Castle
  • Angelica Hardee
  • Cam Hardy
  • Evan Nolan
  • Michelle Dillingham
  • Alyson Beridon
  • Seth Walsh
  • Jackie Frondorf
  • Te'Airea Powell
  • Bree Moss

The new council member will serve the rest of Landsman's term through the end of 2023, but Harris and the other seven Democrats on council are keen to see someone who can win next year's election for another two-year term.

The short list includes four names considered front-runners prior to the announcement of this new application process: Alyson Beridon, Jaime Castle, Jackie Frondorf, and Seth Walsh.

Michelle Dillingham is also on the short list, and she has a lot of public support for the appointment. Several people spoke to a council committee Tuesday morning advocating for her. Dillingham ran for council in the last three elections, coming in 10th place in 2021 and 2017, and 12th place in 2013.

Harris plans to announce the final choice the week of Dec. 12.

Nine people have pulled petitions to run for Cincinnati Council in 2023 for the term beginning in 2024: current council members Reggie Harris, Mark Jeffreys, Liz Keating, and Meeka Owens; as well as Andrew Kennedy, Linda Matthew, Boyd T. Miller, Stephan Pryor, and Seth Walsh.

Short List of Applicants

Scroll down to see each candidate's cover letter, resume, and answers to application questions.

Gavi Begtrup describes himself as a "serial entrepreneur," "creative strategist" and "inspirational leader." Begtrup founded Polymath Strategies, a business consulting firm, in 2012. He spent about three years as a policy advisory to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona)

"I'm asking to be appointed to council because I want to serve the people of Cincinnati," Begtrup said in his application. "As a Democrat, I believe that government is a force for good. As a progressive, I believe that we can always do better."

Begtrup ran for Cincinnati Mayor in the 2021 primary, coming in fourth place out of six candidates with 3,229 votes (about 9.5% of the vote total). He ran in the Democratic primary for Ohio House District 27 in 2022, getting about 37.6% of the vote behind Rachel Baker (who went on to win the district). Begtrup says his campaign account still has more $70,000 available for a future campaign.

Galen Gordon is director of Sales and Marketing for Kinley Cincinnati Hotel. He says in the application he has a unique view of how Cincinnati functions. "For too long, Council seemed to react to issues and resident concerns," he said. "I believe in a regional approach to local government with partnerships with our neighboring municipalities when appropriate."

Gordon ran for council in 2021, coming in 26th place out of 35 candidates for nine seats. He received 4,210 votes, about 1% of the total (compared to 4.5% to 7.5% for the top nine candidates).

Jaime Castle of Mt. Washington is a teacher with Cincinnati Public Schools, and most recently worked as campaign manager for Rachel Baker's successful run for Ohio House District 27. She's on the executive board for the Mt. Washington Community Council and participated in Action Tank's City Council Boot Camp.

Castle says she wants to join council to be a champion of the people. "I am a person that runs to the fire, a natural helper and giver," she wrote in her application. "I think I would bring a lot to the table, bringing with me my lived experiences as well as my boundless creativity and curiosity — I would constantly strive for continuous improvement and betterment."

Castle ran to unseat Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R) in Ohio's Second Congressional District in 2020, losing by about 20 percentage points. Castle ran for council in 2021, coming in 21st place out of 35 candidates for nine seats. She received 6,395 votes, about 1.7% of the total.

Angelica Hardee is vice president for Health Strategy at the American Heart Association. She's also an adjunct professor for Tulane University (based in New Orleans) and a consultant with Avant Consulting Group. Hardee says in her application she wants to make health equity a priority of council.

"I've had numerous community leadership experiences and have worked closely with community stakeholders and policymakers to improve population health," she wrote. "I am passionate, approachable, dedicated and proactive leader, who can and will work with all council members to execute tangible change for the City of Cincinnati."

Hardee's only campaign so far has been for Democratic Precinct Executive. She says she's worked on "numerous Democratic campaigns" but does not name them.

Cam Hardy is the community engagement specialist at SORTA/Metro. He's perhaps better known as the founder of the Better Bus Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for better bus service, has installed benches at several bus stops, and campaigned for the passage of Issue 7 (the transit tax).

In his application, Hardy says he has the "passion, knowledge, and experience to lead this city forward," citing his history with community engagement.

Hardy campaigned for council in 2021, but ultimately did not submit petitions to be certified to the ballot. He says in his application he didn't continue with the race because his mother became ill, but adds "I am in a great place and position in my life to dedicate the time to run and win."

Evan Nolan recently resigned from a position in the Cincinnati Solicitor's Office so he could apply for the vacancy on council. He worked as treasurer for Aftab Pureval's campaigns for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, U.S. House of Representatives, and mayor.

Nolan joined the solicitor's office in April, working as chief counsel for special projects and policy initiatives. During that time he served as the law department's liaison to Harris' Equitable Growth and Housing Committee.

"I have followed [Council's] progress closely, often directly from Council chambers, and have been actively involved in several important City initiatives," Nolan wrote in his application. "I can provide this Council with stability and continuity to maintain progress and achieve results."

Nolan has worked on several campaigns but never run for public office.

Michelle Dillingham is an organizer with the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, adjunct professor and field supervisor for social work at the University of Cincinnati, and grant writer for Interact for Health.

"I believe it is the fair and democratic thing to do to appoint me to the seat being vacated given I've run the last 3 elections and came close to winning," Dillingham wrote in her application. "I want to live in a city that will be responsive to and engaged with the needs of every community, not just the few. I have proven that I have the personal and professional experience to make that vision a reality."

Dillingham ran for council in the last three elections. She came in 12th place in 2013 and 10th place in 2017. In the 2021 election, she again finished in 10th place out of 35 candidates, receiving 15,910 votes (about 4.2% of the total).

Alyson Beridon is an attorney for Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC, where she represents consumers, individuals in personal injury and wrongful death cases, and unions, advocacy, and charitable organizations. Her campaign and public service experience was mostly in her early career, between 1999 and 2006.

"I have worked as a Council Aide for two Council Members in the past ... When I left the City, I continued to work on issues related to City policies, such as the City's living wage ordinance and procurement policies," Beridon wrote in her application. "I am a member of the SORTA board which has enhanced my understanding of how transit impacts communities."

Beridon is an elected Democratic Precinct Executive, but has otherwise never run for public office. She says she's managed two City Council campaigns and worked on several county-wide campaigns, including three judicial campaigns for her husband.

Seth Walsh is CEO of the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation and previously worked with the Sedamsville Community Development Corporation and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.

Walsh says he has a unique skill set and important perspective. "I know how development is done and more importantly, I know how it is done right for a community," Walsh wrote in his application. "I know the role the City should play in this and I know the role the City currently plays in it and how to bridge those divides."

Walsh ran for Hamilton County Treasurer in 2016, losing to Robert Goering by about 10 percentage points.

Jackie Frondorf is a small business owner (her plant store Frond opened in Westwood this year), mom, and vice president of the Westwood Civic Association. She says she wants to join council to focus on making sure families stay and thrive in Cincinnati.

"Now is the right time for me to serve," she wrote in her application. "I want to focus on core city services, pedestrian safety, and ensuring that the children and families in Cincinnati have every opportunity to thrive."

Frondorf ran for council in 2021, coming in 20th place out of 35 candidates with 6,947 votes (about 1.8% of the vote, compared to 4.5% to 7.5% for the top nine candidates).

Te'Airea Powell is a senior consultant and data analyst for Omnicare, a pharmacy services provider, and a trustee for the East Westwood Improvement Association (the neighborhood's community council). She says being appointed to council would be a natural extension of the community work she does now.

"I know that 'speaking the language of the people' and my non traditional background can bring a fresh perspective to council and in turn help uplift a demographic of the city that is currently disengaged," she wrote in her application.

Powell ran for Council in 2021, coming in 27th place out of 35 candidates. She received 4,109 votes, about 1% of the total (compared to 4.5% to 7.5% for the top nine candidates).

Bree Moss is a Project CARE program coordinator at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and president of the Northside Community Council. She also serves on the Cincinnati Accessibility Board of Advisors.

Moss says she wants to join council to offer a unique and underrepresented perspective. "My greatest passion is facilitating positive change, ushering in progress from micro to macro levels," Moss wrote in her application. "In the experiences I have acquired, I believe there's great value in my historical knowledge, tenacity, and application of effective bold leadership."

Moss has never run for public office.

Candidate resumes & application responses

Corrected: December 5, 2022 at 9:36 AM EST
A previous version of this story reported incorrect vote totals for Jackie Frondorf and Jaime Castle for the 2021 council election.
Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.