MOUNT VERNON — Fourth Ward Councilman Jeff Gottke will be giving up his council seat to take a position with the Knox County Area Development Foundation.
The freshman councilman announced his decision Monday night after the Ohio Ethics Commission issued an opinion that it would be a conflict of interest to remain on council and work for ADF.
“Because the city makes an annual appropriation to the foundation and that the vice president, in his duties with the land bank, will have significant contacts and interactions with the city administration and its agencies, R.C. 102.04(C) prohibits you from accepting the foundation’s offer of employment to become its vice president,” the opinion, dated Oct. 10, states.
Gottke expressed disappointment in not being able to finish the goals he highlighted during his run against Susan Kahrl for the seat.
“I think I did a good job, but there is so much I wanted to accomplish,” he said. “… To the people of the 4th Ward, I have brought your interests to this group, but I have not accomplished what I promised you when I ran last year. So I will make this commitment to you. I will work to seat a replacement who shares your vision for our neighborhoods. I will work to find a replacement who will be thoughtful and honest, works in good faith and tries to work together with everyone.”
Gottke encouraged those on council to work to their potential “to make Mount Vernon an even greater city. Do not accept the status quo,” he said.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, the party’s city controlling committee will have to name a replacement between five and 45 days of the vacancy. Republican Party Chairman Chip McConville is seeking clarification on what “city controlling committee” means.
Two 4th Ward residents, Mike Hillier and Scott Pullins, have already expressed interest in filling the seat, which expires at the end of 2019.
“I am definitely interested in the position,” Hillier told the News Monday night. “I have contacted Chip (McConville) and John Nixon and previously spoken to Jeff (Gottke), all representing the ward. I feel that my 10 years experience on council and the fact that I’ve followed what council has done, and is involved in — I’m ready for that seat,” Hillier told the News.
“I plan to seek the appointment to the vacancy and to also run in the Republican primary, regardless of whom the three members of the Knox County Republican Central Committee appoint to this seat,” Pullins told the News in an email Monday night. “… Recent events have clearly shown that while it is important to elect new people to City Council, it is also important that their backgrounds and experience be more seriously vetted. And while my background and experience is not without some minor blemishes, I am a very known quantity.”
Those interested in being considered for the seat should contact McConville, Gottke or John Nixon, the central committee representatives of the 4th Ward.