Pete Kotses

Candidates listen as incumbent Athens City Council at-large member Pete Kotses speaks. File photo.

Athens City Councilmember Pete Kotses announced this week that he won’t seek another term, saying in an interview with Ohio University student news organization The New Political that he loves governance but doesn’t like getting bogged down in politics.

Kotses, a Democrat who’s serving his third term as an at-large member, encouraged residents across the ideological spectrum to consider launching a campaign for the seat.

“So often people only want to converse and affiliate with like-minded people,” he said in a Facebook post. “Consider council as a board of directors for the city. If you have seven like-minded people with similar experiences does that encourage the best conversation? To some degree it depends on the people but bottom line we can always do better.”

Following the 2019 election when Democrat Beth Clodfelter unseated Independent Pat McGee, City Council became controlled entirely by Democrats, leaving little room for dissent within the body.

Kotses, a cycling advocate who shuttered his longtime business Athens Bicycle last year amid the pandemic, also called for a greater diversity of race, background, education and profession in potential candidates for the seat.

“If you see something lacking on council that you see in yourself and you feel up for the task it’s time to consider the opportunity,” he said.

Kotses did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year he contested Athens County Treasurer Ric Wasserman in the Democratic primary after winning re-election to his City Council seat, incensing both Wasserman and the Democratic establishment who all contributed to his Council campaign just months earlier. Kotses lost by more than 20 points.

No candidate has officially announced plans to run for Kotses’ at-large seat. Damon Krane, former self-proclaimed socialist candidate for Athens mayor, said in a text message he’s mulling a potential campaign.

Krane said he would likely run as an Independent in the general election, as he did in 2019, meaning he wouldn’t participate in the primary. Although he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of running as a Democrat.

Feb. 3 is the filing deadline to run in the partisan primaries. The deadline for candidates who run as Independents is May 3.

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