Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas will resign his council seat after the April 17 council meeting. Thomas recommended that his wife of 32 years, Pam Thomas, take his seat.
“Her qualifications are impeccable,” Thomas told reporters April 16. “She will give this city a good representation.”
Thomas’ wife ran for Hamilton County clerk of courts last year, ultimately losing to Tracy Winkler. But Thomas said she won 70 percent of the vote in Cincinnati, making her a strong contender as a local candidate.
Thomas’ recommendation has raised questions among critics about how council members are replaced upon resignation.
Incumbents can only make recommendations to successor designees, who make the final decision, but as Councilman Wendell Young, one of Thomas’ designees, noted at the meeting, the designees typically give great weight to the incumbent’s recommendation.
When asked whether council members should have so much power in recommending appointees, Thomas said, “I just follow the rules.” He said if City Council wants to change the rules, it can.
Thomas said he will now run for the State Senate seat being left vacant by State Sen. Eric Kearney, who is term limited. He acknowledged the State Senate might be a more difficult place for Democrats, which are in the minority at the state level, but he said he hopes to “bridge divides” if he serves.