Coleman Will Not Run Again; Speculation Begins On Mayoral Possibilities
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman says today he will not run for election to a record fifth term next year.
The Democrat elected in 1999 is the city's longest-serving chief executive and the nation's longest-serving African-American Mayor. An emotional Coleman made the announcement at City Hall, flanked by family and supporters.
Coleman says he was preparing an agenda for a fifth term, but turning 60 years of age last week made him pause and think about the future.
Coleman says he's not sure what he will do next, other than prepare the city to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention - something he says he wants to do without having to worry about re-election.
Coleman was elected in 1999 by 20 points over Republican Dorothy Teater for a seat vacated by Republican Greg Lashutka, who left the office for health reasons. Coleman later defeated Republicans Earl Smith and Bill Todd , and once ran unopposed. During his tenure, Coleman focused on downtown and neighborhood development. He spearheaded creation of the Scioto Mile, North Bank Park and current work to transform the river to create more downtown greenspace. He also initiated the use of casino tax revenue for the controversial purchase of Nationwide Arena. In 2002, the Justice Department dropped its civil rights lawsuit against the city over police abuses, and Coleman spearheaded implementation of the terms of the consent decree that settled the litigation. Major water and sewer system improvements were launched, motivated by two consent decrees signed with state regulators. Coleman guided Columbus through two serious economic downturns without laying off safety personnel and maintaining the city's triple-a credit rating. But he could not convince voters to approve a rental car tax in 2002 and took a major political hit when voters last year rejected the Columbus City Schools levy Coleman championed. Coleman briefly ran for Governor in 2005 and is now considering a possible challenge to Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman. His decision sets up a potential contest between Democratic Columbus City Council president Andy Ginther and one of his former colleagues on the Columbus school board, Republican Terry Boyd. Ginther has long been positioning himself to succeed Coleman. Boyd is a professor and vice president at Franklin University. Three other Democrats - Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, City Council member Michelle Mills and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott - are also considered to be potential candidates.