Monroe mayor appoints new council member to fill vacancy created by resignation

Monroe Mayor Jason Frentzel has appointed a council member to replace Robert “Bob” Routson who resigned last month.

Frentzel appointed Ben Wagner to fill Routson’s position that expires on Dec. 31, 2021. Routson, 69, served on city council for 24 years, the longest tenure of the seven members.

“He’s the best fit,” Frentzel said of Wagner.

Wagner, 39, said he plans to run for a seat on city council in the November election.

Members of council were divided at the last meeting when a motion was made to appoint Marc Bellapianta, one of the three candidates who applied and were interviewed. The motion failed when three members, Christina McElfresh, Todd Hickman and Frentzel, voted against Bellapianta’s appointment.

After the vote, council went into executive session, then returned 30 minutes later without further discussion.

Then on Sunday, after the one-month deadline passed to file Routson’s seat, Frentzel appointed Wagner from a pool of candidates that also included Lindsey Pyron.

Frentzel said of the three candidates he was impressed by Wagner’s longevity in the community and his knowledge of the major issues.

Wagner and his family moved from Cincinnati to Monroe eight years ago, and he served the last six months on planning commission, a seat he had to vacate as a council member.

A major challenge facing Monroe is figuring out the “right way to grow,” Wagner said. Council must decide if the city can benefit from more warehouses, high-density apartments and condominiums and adding restaurants and entertainment businesses, he said.

“We have to use the space in the best manner,” said Wagner, who works for Grainger Industrial Supply that has three branches in the Cincinnati area.

With Routson’s resignation and Wagner’s appointment, the experience on council dropped. The seven members have a combined 41 years with Anna Hale (15) and Hickman (11) leading the way.

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