Athens City Councilmember Beth Clodfelter resigned Monday after being placed on the short list for a regional representative position with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office, ending her first and only term in office early.
Clodfelter, the second Democrat to resign from Council in recent weeks, said she had undergone since February an “intensive” application process for the job to serve as a liaison for Brown in southeast Ohio, meeting with leaders across 25 counties to take the political temperatures of each and report them back to the office. While Clodfelter hasn’t formally accepted the job yet, she expects employment terms to be finalized in the coming days.
“I think especially after this pandemic year when we’ve all been shut up and in probably more isolation than we have experienced in our lives, that the idea of getting to meet lots and lots of people sounds very appealing to me,” Clodfelter, who called Brown one of her lifelong heroes, said.
Clodfelter, who was first elected at-large in 2019, was under the impression she would be able to remain on Council if selected for the position, and Brown’s team was considering amending a longstanding office policy to allow for it but they told her last week it couldn’t be permitted. The outgoing councilmember said she was planning to run for re-election and even had campaign signs stored in her garage.
“We’re sorry to see her go, but it’s a good professional opportunity for her,” Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said of her departure in an interview.
Clodfelter said she applied for the job after Athens County Democratic Party Chair John Haseley encouraged her. The outgoing councilmember said she’ll still live in Athens and work primarily from home until it’s deemed safe to meet with others in person.
“This was really a surprise for me, and I’m just truly grateful to the citizens of Athens for giving me the honor of representing them,” she said.
It’s not clear who’s in line to replace Coldfelter on Council. She said she’s recommended to the party several potential candidates, but that they won’t go public with any names. The Athens city Democratic Central Committee is expected to gather in the coming weeks to appoint her replacement. Haseley said the meeting will be “sooner rather than later,” but that he isn’t sure who is being considered for the role.
“I am sure we will have very capable individuals who will express an interest,” he said.
The appointment could complicate the at-large race since it’s not clear whether Clodfelter’s replacement will be placed on the ballot in the general election. Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey wasn’t able to comment on exactly what effect the appointment could have on the race, but she said that election law seems to indicate the Democratic Central Committee has the ability to place an appointee on the ballot.
Clodfelter’s replacement will mark the second Democratic appointment to the body in just over a month, after Ben Ziff replaced former Councilmember Pete Kotses. Ziff will certainly appear on the ballot in November since he secured the requisite petitions before his appointment, Quivey said.
Only one elected at-large councilmember, Sarah Grace, will be up for re-election. Independent candidates Damon Krane and Iris Virgee, who both secured enough signatures to be placed in the ballot, are each vying for one of the three at-large seats.