Cincinnati Councilor Betsy Sundermann moves a suspension for his colleague Wendell Young. The procedure is possible after a constitutional amendment approved by the voters on Tuesday, which Sundermann had proposed to the vote.
The measure gives the council the power to suspend a member who is charged with criminal offenses in connection with his activity on the council.
Last month, a special attorney charged Young, a Democrat, with tampering with files related to the 2018 Gang of Five SMS case. Sundermann says this is exactly the kind of situation their constitutional amendment is intended for.
“How could we not do that right after people voted for it yesterday?” said Sundermann. “If we don’t do that, I think we’d have to explain to 77% of the voters why we’re not doing what they wanted.”
Sundermann introduced the change in response to three councilors charged with federal bribery last year.
Young’s charges are unrelated to these cases; he has pleaded not guilty. WVXU reached out to Young for comment Wednesday morning and is waiting for a response.
Sundermann, a Republican, says her motivations are not political.
“It’s not up to me to analyze the facts, analyze the underlying facts, or compare two people. I’ll stick with it, ”she said. “I said the same thing to the Republican who was charged as I said to the Democrats who were charged.”
Once the election results are confirmed over the next two weeks, a suspension hearing will be held in front of the nine-member council.
“And then Mr. Young can set out his case, why he shouldn’t be suspended, or he could send a lawyer, I have no idea,” said Sundermann. “But he will have due process – that is an important part of the legal process – and then we will vote on it.”
A suspension would require a super majority of seven votes, with Young not being able to attend.
If Young is suspended, he would officially stay on the council and continue to receive paychecks. His successor agent would elect a temporary replacement; Young’s successor is Chris Seelbach.
The change, along with a similar one proposed by Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, which was also approved with majority support, also prevents Young from changing his successor on the indictment.
If convicted on the charges, the statute amendment states that Young would automatically be removed from office. If the charges were dismissed or Young found not guilty, the suspension would automatically end.