Mayor Michael B. Coleman plans to complete the remainder of his fourth term and will then join the Ice Miller law firm as director of business and government strategies. Coleman, the leader of Columbus for 16 years, will step down as the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history on December 31st.
Mayor Michael B. Coleman plans to complete the remainder of his fourth term and will then join the Ice Miller law firm as director of business and government strategies.
Coleman, who has been the leader of Columbus for 16 years, will step down as senior mayor in city history on December 31st.
With crushing victories in each of his elections, he is also one of the most popular. Under his leadership, Columbus has experienced rapid population growth that has not been matched by any of the other major Ohio cities.
“I feel it is my duty to the electorate to serve the remainder of my term in office.” Coleman said Tuesday in his office.
Coleman’s future has been of concern to many in the city since he abruptly announced about a year ago that he would not seek a fifth term. This paved the way for Coleman’s successor, Andrew Ginther, who voters elected mayor last week.
Ginther is sworn in on January 1st.
The most remembered word Coleman is “boasting”. A word with which he encouraged others to promote the city as zealously as he was. Coleman drove tractors, bicycles, and horses (dressed in head-to-toe jeans for the Quarter Horse Congress) to make his point clear.
?? Our town has boast now? Said Coleman. I believe that the city of Columbus now believes in itself and that we can compete with any church in the nation because we have that trust. “
With that trust, Ice Miller wants Coleman to expand to other communities that the law firm serves.
Richard A. Barnhart, an Ice Miller partner, said Coleman’s experience and achievements are hard to match and other cities wanted his blueprint. Ice Miller has more than 320 attorneys based in offices primarily in the Midwest, Washington DC, and New York.
?? Mayors around the country want to speak to Mike and ask how you built the arena district. ?? Barnhart said. It’s amazing what he’s accomplished in 16 years and we expect Mike to be able to help other governments.
State law prohibits Coleman from doing business with Columbus for a year after he resigns.
Former Mayor Greg Lashutka faced the same restrictions when he stepped down from office in 1999 and took up a position as senior vice president for Nationwide. State ethics officials also told Lashutka not to participate in any city deal with Nationwide in his final months in office.
Coleman will be a senior attorney at Ice Miller, providing legal advice and advice to clients in both the public and private areas of transactions, Barnhart said.
A job at Ice Miller is a kind of homecoming for Coleman. Ice Miller merged in 2012 with Schottenstein Zox and Dunn, who Coleman worked for before he became mayor.
Coleman, 60, plans to continue living in central Ohio after leaving office.
Coleman was first elected in 1999, beating Republican Dorothy Teater. He then ran a campaign for better snow removal and sound housekeeping. He took office on January 1, 2000.
In the early days of his tenure, Coleman joked that all of his directors needed to have snow shovels in their offices in order to clear the streets.
The city’s operating budget when Coleman took office was approximately $ 507 million, which served the needs of approximately 715,000 residents. The city’s operating budget is now $ 813 million and Columbus has a population of 836,000.
Coleman helped Columbus? Comeback by concentrating on the city center. The downtown mall was demolished, the arena district built, and thousands of people moved to new residential and condominiums in the heart of the city.
The city recovered despite several financial crises during Coleman’s tenure. Coleman rolled out layoffs and hiring freezes multiple times in the mid to late 2000s as the nation was hit by a recession.
During this time, Coleman also had an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2005, speaking out against the war in Iraq.
However, those financial burdens were largely eased in 2009 when Columbus voters approved a city income tax increase from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
The city introduced roadside recycling in 2011 and developed new crime-fighting initiatives such as surveillance cameras for the neighborhood.
The last years of his tenure were turbulent. After a push of business interests, Coleman announced he would attempt to repair the Columbus City Schools.
He brushed aside calls for a mayoral takeover of the school district. Instead, he created a commission to develop proposals for improving schools. In 2013, Coleman led a school tax campaign calling on voters to fund a plan that would have raised taxes for schools by about 24 percent and sent some of that money to charter schools.
Almost 70 percent of voters rejected this levy.
In November 2014, Coleman announced that he would not seek a fifth term as mayor.
In June, federal court documents revealed an investigation into the city’s relationship with red-light camera maker Redflex. Former Redflex officials said in their confessions of guilt on federal bribery allegations that donations made through their lobbyists to the campaigns of Coleman, Ginther and others were bribes. Both men say they did nothing wrong and have not been charged.
It was also revealed that the FBI is investigating the 2010 sale of Coleman’s house to a Chinese businesswoman who never lived there and then received special treatment from a staff member in the city’s development department, Coleman’s former assistant, and the real estate agent who sold the Coleman house.
Coleman said development worker Bob Hsieh acted alone and without his knowledge. Hsieh was recently suspended and lost some of his free time for his actions.
Coleman said the federal investigation is focused on the Chinese woman who bought his home.
Both the Redflex affair and the sale of Coleman’s house are still under investigation.