Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Luken, Fuller decline challenge

They won't address hiring a manager

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Councilman Pat DeWine wants the two top mayoral candidates to present their plans for hiring Cincinnati's next city manager, but both Charlie Luken and Courtis Fuller say that won't happen.

        “I don't see any reason for doing something that is going to politicize the process,” said Mr. Luken, the Democratic incumbent who faces challenges from Mr. Fuller and two other candidates in the Sept. 11 mayoral primary.

        Mr. Fuller said any attempt by him and Mr. Luken to put together a process for hiring the new city manager would be “a distraction.”

        “The system will work,” Mr. Fuller said. “If you have to fill the slot with an interim city manager, then you do that. There will be plenty of time to deal with that after the election.”

        The first major decision for whoever is elected mayor this fall will be replacing City Manager John Shirey, who has resigned effective Dec. 1, the day the new mayor and council take office.

        Under Cincinnati's new system of government, the mayor has expanded powers, including the power to choose a city manager, who must be approved by a majority of council. In the past, the city manager has been chosen by a council majority.

        In recent weeks, Mr. Luken and Mr. Fuller, the two best-known candidates, have been under increasing pressure to lay out the process they will use for picking a replacement for Mr. Shirey.

        Monday, Mr. DeWine, a Republican, called on the two mayoral candidates to meet to discuss the hiring of a city manager.

        “I could propose a plan, but I'm not going to be mayor,” said Mr. DeWine. “I think it is incumbent on the two people who do have a chance to be mayor to say what they will do.”

        Last week, a non-incumbent Democratic council candidate, Jane Anderson, also called on Mr. Luken and Mr. Fuller to lay out their plans.

        “I would hope that they are out scouting people, or at least thinking about what they want,” Ms. Anderson said.

        Both Mr. DeWine and Ms. Anderson say they want to avoid a long delay in naming a permanent replacement for Mr. Shirey. In 1993, there was a six-month gap between the firing of City Manager Gerald Newfarmer and the hiring of Mr. Shirey. Then-city finance director Frank Dawson filled in as the acting city manager.

        Monday, Mr. Luken pledged that if he is elected mayor this fall, a new city manager will be in place by Jan. 1.

        Mr. Luken said he does not have a particular person or persons in mind for the job.

        “I do know the characteristics I want — somebody I can work with side by side, working the agenda we lay out in the campaign,” Mr. Luken said. “I'm not necessarily looking for someone who has a PhD in bureaucracy.”

        Enquirer reporter Gregory Korte contributed to this article.


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