Seth Walsh will replace Greg Landsman on Cincinnati Council
Seth Walsh of Clifton, the young CEO of the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, will replace Greg Landsman on Cincinnati Council.
Harris tells WVXU he chose Walsh in part because of his experience bringing housing and retail to College Hill over the past several years.
"College Hill is the blueprint for that work," Harris said. "To be able to have that level of expertise and real, practical knowledge on council is just going to be a win-win and a value add to our work."
Harris says seven of the eight other council members named Walsh in their top two or three choices. "So I knew that he would be a choice that my colleagues would feel comfortable with, and they had expressed interest in him proactively."
Walsh says he’s not bringing any new priorities to council. Instead, he wants to enhance what council is already working on with housing.
"The experience of building new is one thing, working in LIHTC [Low Income Housing Tax Credits] is another experience," Walsh said. "The experience also of taking on really critical buildings that you'd recognize in almost any neighborhood and being able to preserve them and what does it take to actually preserve them so those who are living there can have just as high a quality of life as everybody else in the neighborhood — and once you do that, how that can have a really positive ripple effect throughout the rest of the community."
Walsh says he's not sure yet if he'll stay on as CEO of the College Hill CURC.
"One of my first priority items is to meet with the city legal team, and then probably get an opinion from the Ohio State Ethics Commission about what could happen," Walsh said. "College Hill has meant a lot to me over the last seven years so I'm going to leave them in a good place, whatever that is. And I'm going to very closely follow the law on how that could be, I just don't know what it is yet."
Walsh ran for Hamilton County Treasurer in 2016, losing to Robert Goering by about 10 percentage points. He previously worked with the Sedamsville Community Development Corporation and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.
"We set out to establish a new, public and transparent process, and I couldn't be more grateful to my colleagues and those who engaged in this new way of filing a Council vacancy," Landsman said in a statement. "My hope is that this becomes the norm moving forward: public, transparent, and based on our shared values and the qualities of a successful lawmaker."
Initially, Landsman had tapped his seven fellow Democrats on Council to serve as "successor designees," working together to choose his replacement. Landsman later announced he had asked Harris alone to make the pick.
Walsh will be sworn in Dec. 19, the same day Landsman will officially resign. Walsh will serve the rest of Landsman’s term, which runs through the end of next year.
A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Reaction from other council members
WVXU reached out to the seven other council members for comment on Harris' pick to replace Landsman.
“Seth Walsh will be a great addition to City Council," said President Pro Temp Victoria Parks in a statement. "He’s done wonders for College Hill and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
"Seth and I have worked together in the past and I have seen firsthand the impactful work he has done in College Hill and throughout our city," said Liz Keating, council's only Republican, in a statement. "I look forward to working with him on Council to solve our most pressing issues."
"Seth will bring a unique perspective to Council coming from his work in College Hill," said Mark Jeffreys in a statement. "I am excited to work with him moving forward"
More changes ahead
Mayor Aftab Pureval will have to decide how much to change the council committee structure once Landsman resigns.
Landsman is chair of Budget and Finance, the most influential committee and the only one that meets weekly. Harris, Budget and Finance Vice Chair, is the likely choice to take over as chair.
Although there's nothing in the city charter or rules of council to prohibit a council member from chairing more than one committee, Harris would likely give up chairing the Equitable Growth and Housing Committee if he took over Budget and Finance.
Meeka Owens is Vice Chair of Equitable Growth & Housing; if she took over as chair, she could give up chairing Climate, Environment & Infrastructure. Mark Jeffreys is Vice Chair of Climate, Environment & Infrastructure.
Pureval has free rein to choose who chairs each committee, with no obligation to promote current vice chairs. Pureval's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when those decisions will be made. Pureval will be at Tuesday's scheduled news conference.