© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Rob Dorans To Be Sworn In As Newest Columbus Council Member

New Columbus City Council member Rob Dorans.
Clare Roth
New Columbus City Council member Rob Dorans.

Rob Dorans will be sworn in this week as the latest member of Columbus City Council.

Dorans works currently as chief legal counsel for the labor group Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio, and serves as a commissioner with Columbus’ Recreation and Parks Department. He says he’s eager to work on bringing more living wage jobs to the city.

“Two out of every three families in the Columbus metro area make less than $50,000,” Dorans says. “At a time that we have record low unemployment, we need to see more wage growth in order to provide more opportunities for families to continue to grow.”

Dorans acknowledges lawmakers will soon have to make some “tough choices” with the city budget. It’s been a decade since Columbus last raised the income tax, and income tax revenues aren’t keeping up with population growth.

"I think we do need to study whether or not we're going to have the funds we need to continue to provide what we want to provide for folks all across the city," Dorans says.

Dorans’s current employer, Affiliated Construction Trades, opposes the Lake Erie Bill of Rights recently passed in Toledo. Dorans says he’d want to look closely at any attempts to pass similar laws here.

“I think anytime we want to balance the environment with economic development, at the end of the day, we need to make sure folks have the ability to earn a living for their families, but at the same time not at the deficit at the environment,” Dorans says.

Dorans is a Democrat, along with the rest of the seven-member council. Republicans haven’t controlled a seat for over a decade, and aren’t running a single candidate for council this year. Dorans says, despite their party alliance, members don’t agree on everything.

“I think there will be tough conversations throughout the next nine months,” Dorans says. “I’m treating the next nine months as a job interview with the Columbus voters.”

Since 1997, just three members were elected to their first stint on Columbus Council. Dorans, who fills the seat being vacated by Michael Stinziano, is the 19th member first appointed to fill a vacancy. Community activists have long called for the council to do away with appointments and instead hold elections for vacant seats, but Council members have fought against such proposals.

“I certainly understand the criticisms of the appointment process,” Dorans says. “Unfortunately, it’s what the charter calls for at this time.”

Dorans says the process is now more transparent, due to the charter’s new requirements for public hearings ahead of any appointments. The first hearing under that rule happened earlier this year, ahead of Shayla Favor’s selection to fill the seat of Jaiza Paige. Another hearing was held last month ahead of Dorans’ selection.

While Doran says he’d like to increase transparency in the future, he didn’t say whether he’d support revisiting the city charter to change the appointment process.

“Anytime that folks have more of an ability to understand who’s representing them and what their values are, I certainly would be in support of trying to see what we could do to make that happen,” Dorans says.

Dorans will be ceremonially sworn in Wednesday.