Thursday, April 17, 2003

Cole makes sure votes counted

Newest council member sworn in

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Newly appointed Cincinnati City Council member Y. Laketa Cole makes her first comments before council Wednesday.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
Y. Laketa Cole took the oath of office from Dwight Tillery, former Cincinnati mayor and councilman, in a private, low-key ceremony in the mayor's office Wednesday.

Then she went upstairs to take Tillery's old seat on City Council. She cast six routine "yes" votes, said a few words, then visited her cramped office - smallest of the nine - for the first time.

"This is the first chance I've had to sit down at my desk," she said, looking around the blank walls of her office 10 hours into her first official day on City Council. "You know, this used to be Dwight Tillery's desk."

If the former mayor's name keeps coming up around Cole, it's no coincidence. Tillery has been grooming the 29-year-old Bond Hill woman for this job since he hired her as a council aide in 1997.

"This is a man who really helped me starting out when I was a teacher's aide. He gave me an opportunity, and let me get a foot in the door," she said. "He stood behind me. But he's never tried to tell me what to do."

Age: 29
Home: Bond Hill
Education: Graduated from Aiken High School; received bachelor's degree in political science from Wittenberg University in Springfield; graduate course work in public administration from the University of Cincinnati.
Career experience: Assistant to council members Dwight Tillery and Paul Booth, 1997-2001; public relations manager, Cincinnati Empowerment Corp., 2002-2003.
Cole's first day on council began at 5 a.m., when she took a plane in from Virginia. She had been chaperoning a group of 35 Cincinnati high school students on a week-long bus tour of 12 black colleges. She flew back Wednesday night to continue the tour.

The trip seemed hardly worth it.

Council unanimously passed six routine items. Her swearing-in ceremony lasted just a few minutes and included only a couple of members of Cole's family, Tillery, Mayor Charlie Luken and Councilwoman Minette Cooper.

"I didn't want to miss any votes, and I didn't want to leave the seat vacant," Cole said. City Council Democrats appointed her to replace Councilman Paul M. Booth, who resigned last week.

After her appointment became official last week, Cole resigned from her job as director of community and public relations at the Cincinnati Empowerment Corp. Campaigning and serving as a full-time member of council will be work enough, she said.

Cole said it's too soon to lay out her legislative goals for the next seven months, before she faces an election to a full two-year term. But she said she hopes to have an opportunity to continue Booth's work on bringing City Hall closer to the neighborhoods.

"I'd like to focus on bringing businesses - and a sense of community - back to our neighborhoods," she said. "And most importantly, a sense of pride."


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