Loveland, Ohio – On Wednesday, Mayor Kathy Bailey announced she has selected Kent Blair to fill the vacant seat on City Council. The council seat has been vacant since the resignation of Mark Fitzgerald on August 14 of last year. Blair will serve the remaining two-year’s of Fitzgerald’s term. Blair is expected to be sworn into office at the next council meeting scheduled for January 9.
In a press release, Bailey said she conducted personal interviews with several candidates before making her decision. “I selected Kent because he shares my commitment to community engagement and transparency,” Bailey said. “The voters made clear this November what qualities they want in their council members, and Kent exemplifies them all. He is committed to working with this new council to make the City proud of the work we do, and the manner in which we do it.”
Blair had submitted petitions to run for one of the four, four-year open council seats in last November’s election but withdrew from the race when Neal Oury submitted petitions to run.
The Back Story
On August 11 the Hamilton County Board of Elections ruled that Oury and the Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee (LCHPAC) had submitted sufficient petitions to recall Fitzgerald. The petition effort was successful, and could have resulted in a head-to-head race, Oury vs. Fitzgerald, however instead of facing the voters to retain his seat, resigned. That left Fitzgerald’s seat open and Loveland without a Mayor.
Oury then submitted petitions to run for one of the regular open seats on Council and that is when Blair withdrew his petitions to run. It was an apparent deal with LCHPAC who endorsed five candidates. If there was not a recall election, Blair would withdraw making room for Oury’s name on the ballot. Others receiving the LCHPAC endorsement were incumbents, Rob Weisgerber, Ted Phelps, and newcomer Tim Butler.
Fitzgerald stepped down as Mayor at an August 14 meeting so that he could still cast a vote on who would be the next mayor and vice-mayor. The votes were 4-3 in favor of then vice-mayor Angie Settell and then, council member, Pam Gross. After the meeting was over, Fitzgerald distributed a letter that he was resigning from Council. The attempt to elevate Settell to Mayor was later ruled illegal by City Solicitor Joe Braun because there wasn’t proper public notice of the meeting. Braun also ruled that the council seat would remain open until new council members were sworn in on December 4 and a new Mayor elected. Bailey was elected Mayor.
About Kent Blair
In announcing his withdrawal from the ballot, Blair said on August 18, “I was one of nine candidates on the ballot for four City Council seats. When I was first asked to consider running, I made it clear to all that, while I want to serve, and believe that I would do a good job, the main outcome of the election must be removing the existing majority on Council. To help achieve that, if necessary, I would withdraw my own candidacy so that the full support of those in Loveland who share my goal could be focused, laser-like, on four candidates for four seats. With the recall election no longer a possible ballot question, the mathematics of the race have changed. It is in celebration of that victory, and in keeping with my commitment, that I have withdrawn my name for the ballot for November, and strongly urge any and all who share my views of the future of our city to support now and cast your votes when the time comes for Rob Weisgerber, Ted Phelps, Neal Oury, and Tim Butler.”
Blair is employed at U.S. Bank where he is an investment advisor and broker. He is a 12-year resident of Loveland and dad to a senior at Loveland High School. He has been a member of the Amazing Charity Race Committee since its inception and as a 7-year coach of SAY Soccer.
In announcing his candidacy Blair said he would advocate for transparency and resident engagement. At the top of his list for reform is the makeup of the Community Improvement Corporation. Blair added, “I am a strong supporter of accountability of elected officials to the people they serve. I believe in process, good stewardship of resources, an expectation of inclusion, and sensible growth. Loveland should stand for all of the residents, not the few who lead it. Development of a future master plan must be approached with an emphasis on community representation, not strategic power plays that benefit only a few.”