Fending off two former East Ridge mayors and a college student who vowed to bring a fresh approach to the city’s leadership, Brent Lambert’s title with the city will change from councilman to mayor on Dec. 18.
“There were folks today who literally spent all 12 hours at the polls waving signs,” he said. “It’s just overwhelming.”
Lambert, 34, said his first priority as mayor will be finding a new city manager. A “close second,” he said, will be to appoint people to East Ridge’s Economic Development Committee, which recently was created to bring new businesses to the city and assist existing ones.
Alongside Lambert on the City Council will be two veterans and at least one new face. The last spot on the five-person council — the seat that Lambert is vacating for his new position — must be appointed by the other four members.
They could name a newcomer or, hypothetically, someone from the previous council — including outgoing Mayor Mike Steele or Tom Card, an incumbent councilman who didn’t reclaim his seat in Tuesday’s election.
Councilman Denny Manning’s seat won’t be contested until 2012.
Newcomer Jim Bethune, an employee of Honda of Cleveland, and incumbent Councilman Larry Sewell, an employee of Hamilton County schools, won the city’s two open council seats in a field of six candidates.
“I’m appreciative to all my voters,” said Bethune, 65. “I feel as if we can make a big change — that’s what it’s all about.”
Bethune, who will also start his position Dec. 18, said his first action will be to ensure the city’s finances are in line.
Sewell, a four-year council veteran, said he wants to “look a little deeper” and “be a little more thorough” in selecting the city’s next city manager.
He thanked voters Tuesday night and said “I want to see the best for the city.”
Lambert won about 40 percent of the vote, defeating former East Ridge Mayor Don Huskey by roughly 13 percent.
With about 87 percent of precincts reporting, Bob Johnson, another former mayor, and UTC student Robert Frye finished in third and fourth, respectively.
Some of the issues the new mayor and council will face include deciding on a use for the defunct McBrien Elementary building and the recently purchased East Ridge Pool, finding a new city manager, furthering an early-stage land development adjacent to Exit 1 off Interstate 75, and keeping the budget afloat in the face of a $681,999 deficit.
Contact staff writer Michael Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673.