Friday, June 15, 2001

Charterites endorse 4 for council

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's Charter Committee unveiled a four-candidate City Council slate Thursday it hopes will increase its foothold in a city government that will be vastly different from the one Charterites created 75 years ago.

        Charter, the city's independent political party, has yet to name a candidate for mayor and is unlikely to do so by the June 28 filing deadline.

        But the one incumbent Charterite on council, Jim Tarbell, who briefly considered a run for mayor himself, will run this year with three non-incumbents who have never run for political office before.

        They are:

        • Dawn Denno, 49, of Mount Lookout, who works for the Ohio Department of Education and heads Operation Smile, a nonprofit group that sends doctors to Third World nations to perform reconstructive surgery on disfigured children.

        • John Schlagetter, a 36-year-old architect who lives in North Avondale and works in the West End.

        • Kino Harrison, 29, a College Hill resident who is a residential adviser with the Job Training Corp.

        Mr. Tarbell is 59 years old and has been on council since 1998, when he was appointed to the seat held for nearly a quarter of a century by Charterite Bobbie Sterne.

        He recently led a move in council to fire City Manager John Shirey on the spot. Instead, Mr. Shirey agreed to resign effective Dec. 1.

        Charter has been a force in Cincinnati politics since the 1920s, when the original Charter Committee — including such men as Murray Seasongood and Charles Taft — pushed successfully for a council-manager form of government to replace a corrupt Republican political machine that had dominated City Hall for decades.

        Two years ago, Cincinnatians voted to change the city's political and governmental system to one where the mayor is directly elected and, while no longer a member of council, has greatly enhanced powers — including the power to initiate the hiring and firing of the city manager, veto council legislation and appoint committee chairs.

        “All governmental systems occasionally go through a tweaking,” said Gerald Newfarmer, a former city manager who is now Charter president. “Our job at Charter remains the same — to be the watchdog of good government.”

        The four Charter candidates bring the total of party-endorsed candidates to 18, including nine for the Democrats and five Republicans, all running for nine seats on council.

        A number of independent candidates, with no party backing, are also expected to enter the race.


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