Ohio AG Office: Appointed seats on Toledo Council now vacant due to resignation of former members

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – An unofficial opinion from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office determined that the terms of two board members, appointed after a board corruption scandal erupted, have officially expired. Toledo City Council will now have to fill the seats of Vanice Williams and John Hobbs III, who were appointed to the seats of Tyrone Riley and Yvonne Harper, who have since been convicted on charges of bribery and extortion.

Last week, Toledo’s legal department contacted the Ohio State AG office for clarification on the next steps for Williams and Hobbs’ council seats following the convictions of Harper, Riley and Larry Sykes. AG’s public relations director says the Yost office’s response to Toledo’s legal department is not an official opinion, but rather a response to a letter from the city.

“Given that a person cannot be removed from a position that he or she no longer holds, it follows that the suspension should end when the public official loses the right to office,” General Counsel Bridget Kunz said in the opinion. “And when the suspension ends, the period of provisional replacement also ends – because the appointment is only “for the duration of the suspension.”

Harper and Riley agreed to a voluntary removal from the council following their arrests and remained in effect until their conviction and resignation this month. Harper and Riley’s terms were originally intended to run until 2023, leaving the status of the Williams and Hobbs seats in question until AG’s Ohio office provides further guidance to the Toledo legal department.

Council President Matt Cherry told our media partner that Toledo Blade Council has 30 days from Dec. 16, the day three former council members were convicted, to appoint someone to fill vacant seats under the city charter.

“I believe there will be a vote on Jan. 10 to fill at least those two county vacancies,” Cherry Blade said. “This whole mystery was new to all of us. I didn’t have much time to work out the details. But now we have a decisive moment, and we must try to do what we can do.

In addition to the vacated seats from councilor appointees, the council will need to fill Michelle Grim’s councilor seat after she was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in November.

You can read the letter from the Ohio Attorney General’s General Counsel to the Toledo Legal Department below in its entirety.

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