Jim Browning will be sworn in as the 3rd Ward representative on Delaware City Council next week.
Council voted 4-2 Monday night for Browning to replace former member Joe DiGenova, who who died March 19 after being ill. The newly appointed member will be required to run for election in November, and if successful, would serve the remainder of the term until November 2019.
Browning said he was acquainted with DiGenova throughout the years.
“He was just a good person,” Browning said. “… This is his seat. This is his term.”
The vote came after Browning and five other candidates were interviewed. The others were George Mantzoros, a member of the Delaware Planning Commission; Benjamin Kelly, a senior bioinformatics scientist for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Stephanie Gregory, an elementary art instructor at River Valley schools in Caledonia, Ohio; Timothy Adams, a senior technical specialist for ICF International Inc.; and George McNab, a legislative liaison for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Council members did two rounds of casting confidential votes for one of the six candidates interviewed. City Attorney Darren Shulman said a candidate needed at least four votes. In the first round, Browning had three votes, Mantzoros had two and McNab had one.
Browning secured four votes in the second round with Mantzoros getting two, most likely from Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle and Councilwoman Lisa Keller, who until earlier this year served on the same commission with Mantzoros.
The two voted for Mantzoros during the third round when votes were publicly cast.
During his interview, Browning said there’s a need to raise awareness about the city’s activities.
“Everyone’s busy and we almost need to make people responsible for being in the know, and so that’s taking the city to the people,” he said.
“… We kind of need to hit people over the head with ‘hey, here’s your opening, here’s where you can ask for questions and you need to do this.’”
Browning was among the candidates who could identify the boundaries of the 3rd Ward. Although he intends to run for the seat in the November election, Browning did not submit any signatures on a petition with his application, according to documents The Gazette received in a records request.
But, the job posting said it was a not a requirement to be appointed. Four other candidates did submit petitions. Mantzoros’ petition had the most signatures at 36.
Browning said the other candidates “were a nice group of people.”
A resident of Delaware for 13 years, Browning lives with his wife, Jayna McDaniel Browning, and his sons Ian, 12, and Liam, 10. He works as a financial adviser for Voya Financial Advisors Inc. and has a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University.
In addition, he served as co-chairman of the political action committee that campaigned for the city’s income tax levy for road maintenance and infrastructure improvements. More than 60 percent of residents voted against the levy last year.
Its failure was a recurring theme throughout the interview process. Councilman Chris Jones, 1st Ward, asked candidates why the levy failed. Their answers included a lack of education, the permanency of the tax increase and the scale of the maintenance and infrastructure improvements proposed.
Councilman George Hellinger asked some candidates how they would handle their constituents’ opposition to some city and development projects because of the “not-in-my-backyard” mentality.
Browning referenced some opposition to the levy in his answer to the question.
“In the roads levy, there was one group of people that truly were going to be impacted and I felt bad,” he said. “… But the bottom line is, you know, half a dozen houses are going to be impacted and the rest of the city is going to be better. In that situation, I lean toward the city.”
Browning considered his work on the levy campaign “beneficial” to get the job because it established a familiarity with the city.
But some council members said their decision had little or nothing to do with the levy campaign.
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said he voted for Browning because “he seem to be well prepared” in his interview and his personality would be a good fit on council to help handle economic development issues.
“I can certainly work with any of these people,” he added, emphasizing that it was an impressive group of candidates.
Riggle said Browning would have been her second pick.
“It was a tough decision,” she said. “… I’m sure he’ll be a good addition.”
Shafer and Riggle thanked the candidates for their interest to be involved.
“And remember, November is around the corner. I encourage you all to run,” Riggle said. “Let the citizens decide this time.”
Browning will be sworn in at a council meeting at City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St., in council chambers 7 p.m. Monday.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.