Almost one week after being arrested on federal charges of extortion, bribery and wire fraud, Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard announced she is resigning from Cincinnati City Council, effective immediately.
"It is with great sadness that I announce my resignation effective today, March 2, 2020," Dennard writes in a statement. "The last thing I want is to be a distraction from the work that needs to be done for this city. My main focus has been the people I serve. I need all of my time and energy to address these charges against me. It is for this reason I have decided to step aside."
On Feb. 25, Dennard was arrested outside of a Downtown Starbucks on charges that she engaged in acts of and attempted acts of bribery and extortion, offering to exchange her votes for money.
Dennard denies the charges and is free on an own-recognizance bond. Her hearing is set for March 16.
Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld will name her replacement.
"This has been a tough stretch for our city, and this is the right thing to allow our city to move forward," Sittenfeld says in a statement. "I will soon be sharing the process for filing the open seat, so that we have nine council members doing the city's business."
Last week, Dennard said she would make a decision about remaining on council this week. But on Saturday, County Prosecutor Joe Deters gave Dennard an ultimatum to resign by Tuesday, or he would file paperwork to initiate suspension proceedings. "I don't care how she goes, she needs to be gone now," Deters told our news partner WCPO.
He released the following statement after Dennard announced she would resign.
I was prepared to file a petition with the Ohio Supreme Court to ask for her removal. Since she has resigned, that will not be necessary.
Had Ms. Dennard continued on city council with this matter pending in federal court, the taxpayers and citizens of our community would have reason to doubt any official action she took. Her resignation is a good step for the city and for her personally."
Council Member Greg Landsman said Dennard made the right decision for the city and herself.
"I think part of what has to happen moving forward is us taking a leadership role to restore the faith that's been lost," Landsman said. "I mean, people have to have faith in their government. I think in particular city government because it affects so many people's lives."
Council Member David Mann said it's good for the city.
"I want to thank Tamaya for bringing an end to this terribly traumatic period, and she didn't have to do it, and I think it's in her interest, I think it's definitely in the city's interest," Mann said, adding Dennard's replacement should be a female and should be African American.