Arian Smedley

Arian Smedley, left, and Sam Miller, both candidates for Athens City Council First Ward, met in an election forum in 2019 at the Athens Public Library. Photo by Conor Morris.

Freshman Athens City Councilmember Arian Smedley announced last week that she would not run for re-election, citing child care and her day job as reasons for not seeking a second term.

“As much as I have enjoyed this experience, I am looking forward to scaling back a bit,” she said in a Facebook post.

Smedley, a Democrat who represents Athens’ First Ward on the West Side, ran uncontested for the seat in 2019 after winning the primary. She plans to serve the remainder of the term and bow out following the 2021 election to focus on her job at the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities and raising her newborn child.

“As for the last year of my term, I plan to make it a busy one,” said Smedley, a nearly lifelong Athens resident. “There are still a number of projects I hope to work on. This will be my last year in public office (at least for a while), so I’ll make it count.”

At least one city resident, Solveig Spjeldnes (Sool-vay Spy-ell-nes), has initiated a campaign for Smedley’s First Ward seat. Spjeldnes, a former social work professor at Ohio University who accepted an early retirement deal last year, said in a Facebook post she’s seeking signatures from West Side residents to be placed on the primary ballot as a Democrat.

In an interview, Spjeldnes said she’s going to try and pinpoint the priorities of the ward’s constituents before outlining any specific policy proposals, though she mentioned a special interest in issues of social justice and poverty. As of Monday, she had obtained 30 signatures from First Ward Democrats, past the threshold needed to appear on the ballot as a ward representative.

Spjeldnes has a Ph.D and master’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in education. She previously lived in Pennsylvania where she was the president of her homeowner’s association for 12 years and did work as a stringer for The Pittsburg Post-Gazette newspaper.

Spjeldnes also served on the board of the domestic violence agency My Sister’s Place and recently resigned after more than five years as vice president of the John W. Clem Recovery House board, a rehabilitation home for men in recovery from addiction.

She’s worked with the nonprofit advocacy group Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children and has been active in the local Democratic Party.

Smedley said she knows that others are also mulling whether to launch a campaign, and encouraged those who may be interested to reach out to her with questions.

“I am hopeful for the future representation of the Westside,” she said.

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