A new president of the London City Council was appointed by the mayor after the previous president left her position to become acting law director.
“After a lot of deliberation and consulting with others I have decided to appoint Joseph Russell to the position of London City Council President,” said Mayor Pat Closser, in a written statement. “[He] will be attending the upcoming meetings and will be presiding over the May 18 London City Council meeting.”
Russell has previously served on the London Board of Zoning Appeals, which Closser cited as a major factor in his decision.
He currently serves as the Policy and Advocacy Director for Ohio’s 88 County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.
Other notable political positions include a one-year stint as legislative aide to Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears, playing a key staff role on health care issues including fighting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Ohio.
During the 2016 Republican primary, Russell made a failed bid as a representative to the Ohio Assembly in the 74th district. Bill Dean
Last week, Jennifer Hitt, the previous president, was appointed by the Republican Central Committee to be law director after Zahid Siddiqi’s departure in April.
Hitt was serving as president as an independent, allowing Mayor Pat Closser to appoint a new council president to finish her term.
The law director position, however, is partisan. As Siddiqi was serving as a Republican, the London members of the Madison County Republican Central Committee was given authority to appoint someone to the position, per Ohio law.
They selected Hitt, who was serving as acting law director while the party made their decision.
“Mrs. Hitt is uniquely qualified to represent the City of London as Law Director. Her familiarity with City Council combined with her criminal law experience will greatly assist her ineffectively serving this community,” said Republican Chairman Nicholas Adkins, in a press release.
Siddiqi, who served in the role for nine years, resigned to pursue a position at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation,
Hitt is currently running to keep her now former seat as president, but as a Republican.
Her two-year council president term ends at the end of this year. Siddiqi’s four-year law director term ends Dec. 31, 2019.
Because an individual cannot serve in two elected offices simultaneously, officials are researching whether she will need to withdraw her candidacy on this November’s ballot.