Mayor of Athens announces he will likely not seek re-election

After seven years of service as mayor of Athens, Paul Wiehl announced at the Athens City Council meeting Monday night he would likely not seek re-election in 2015.

“I probably won’t run again,” Wiehl said. “I just wanted to make it official.”

Shortly after Monday night’s meeting, Councilman Steve Patterson, D-At Large, posted to his personal Facebook page that he would be running for Mayor of Athens next year. Wiehl’s term ends at the end of 2015.

“Well, as of tonight it’s official, I am collecting petition signatures to run for Mayor of Athens, Ohio!” he said in the post. Despite Patterson’s candidacy, Athens County Republican Party Chairman Pete Couladis said Monday night he hadn’t heard of any Republicans interested in the office.

Patterson maintained a mayoral bid was not a new thought for him.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a year,” Patterson said. “The timing is right for leadership with a little different vision.”

Wiehl said Patterson has his blessing and, according to Patterson, is even “taking a petition around” to collect sufficient signatures to run for office.

Patterson — who also is an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University — was circulating the same petition after Monday night’s meeting among councilmembers, Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, said.

As of late October, the latest filing deadline for local campaign finance reports, a committee named “Friends and Supporters of Steve Patterson” had a total of $716.90 going forward.

In the months leading up to the deadline, the committee spent money maintaining Patterson’s campaign website and supporting Democratic candidates including Scott Wharton for U.S. Congress and Ed FitzGerald for Ohio Governor. Patterson’s wife, Connie Patterson, is the committee treasurer.

Councilwoman Chris Knisely, D-At Large, said Patterson had mentioned in the past that he was considering running for office, and was “waiting for the mayor to say something.”

Knisely said Patterson would be an apt fit for the position.

“I think he has a lot of experience with the city,” Knisely said. “It’s the logical thing for him to do next.”

Butler agreed with Knisely’s sentiments.

“I do think he would be an excellent candidate,” Butler said.

Outside of his duties on council, Patterson also farms peppers he sells to local businesses. He told The Post after council’s session he’d likely step down from his position at OU should he become mayor.

OU formally censured Patterson in 2012 for “misrepresenting his publication record in his promotion and tenure dossier,” according to OU spokeswoman Katie Quaranta.

Wiehl had previously told The Post if he were to end his mayorship now, he would consider renovations made to the city’s public transit his biggest legacy, including adding bike paths and improving bus routes.

“There’s always something coming up,” Wiehl said. “I have certain ideas on what I want to do, and the next mayor will have different ideas.”

Wiehl, 61, was elected to office in 2007, moving from a first ward councilman to the head of the city. He makes $78,100 annually.

Wiehl maintained that leading the city is “a lot of work.”

However, he said he has a lot of things to do before possibly leaving office at the end of 2015, citing numerous construction projects, including the reconstruction of buildings affected in the West Union Street fire.

“There’s always something coming up,” Wiehl said. “I have certain ideas on what I want to do, and the next mayor will have different ideas.”

Patterson said he had ideas ranging from “smart infrastructure planning” to working on the Essence of Athens project.

“I believe in our city,” Patterson said, “and I believe in my skills.”

@emilybohatch

eb346012@ohio.edu

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