December 1, 2003
Mayor Charlie Luken and Cincinnati City Council gave affectionate farewells Wednesday to two colleagues who are leaving City Hall.
After four terms and eight years on City Council, Minette Cooper attended her last meeting due to term limits.
Also departing is Republican Chris Monzel, who was appointed to replace Charlie Winburn in February 2001 and elected in his own right the following fall, only to be defeated in a re-election bid earlier this month.
Luken praised the manner in which she has treated constituents over the years. "She is one of those people who comes along and treats every single person who comes into these chambers with respect," the mayor said.
Cooper, 56, of North Avondale, is a former owner of a property management firm.
During her tenure, she served as chairwoman of council's powerful finance committee for three years and guided the budgeting process. In recent years, though, her pace slowed as her chronic battle with multiple sclerosis intensified.
Cooper thanked residents for returning her to City Council each time that she sought the office. When first elected in 1995, Cooper was only the second black female ever to serve on council.
"You were there for me, you supported me, and you went through trials and tribulations with me," Cooper told the audience in council chambers. "God has truly been on this journey with me. Thank you God, and thank you everyone."
Cooper also mentioned her political mentor, former Mayor Dwight Tillery, who left office in late 1998 due to term limits. She credited him for his efforts at cultivating candidates from the black community.
"Dwight Tillery is an astute politician and, in my opinion, ahead of his time," she said.
As City Council ponders placing a charter amendment before voters next year to change how members are elected, Cooper urged the group to consider doubling the council term to four years. That would allow members to accomplish more and not worry about the near-constant demands of campaigning, she said.
Monzel said he was proud of his work during the past three years, pointing to his efforts to expand the Citizens on Patrol program, introduce managed competition for some municipal services, repeal voluntary public financing for City Council campaigns and remove abortion from the health insurance coverage for city workers.
A systems engineer for General Electric Aircraft Engines, Monzel, 35, lives in Winton Place. He previously served on that neighborhood's community council.
Monzel is preparing to announce his candidacy next month to face other GOP candidates in a primary for the right to challenge incumbent Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat.
"The fight is not over, there is much to be done, and I stand ready, willing and able to be called to the task again," he said.
Luken said Monzel's friendly demeanor was a steadying influence on Council that would be missed, adding: "I wouldn't be disappointed if you came back one day."
Noting that Cooper and Monzel served on City Council at a particularly turbulent time that saw the group grappling with budget deficits and race riots, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece said: "We have had the opportunity to work together and lead together through the good times and the bad.
"At the end of the day, we were able to stand united as representatives
of this great city," Reece added.
Copyright © 2003, Cincinnati Post