Emmanuel Remy is set to take a seat on Columbus City Council on January 18 at 5:30 PM, despite the fact that Remy hasn’t garnered a single vote. Instead, he was appointed by sitting members to fill the vacancy left by former council president Zach Klein.
After Klein left to serve as Columbus City Attorney, Remy was chosen by the council from a list of 36 applicants and 13 finalists—one of whom was Yes We Can candidate Jasmine Ayres, the runner-up in November's council elections.
Remy is aware the way he came to the council has its detractors.
“Certainly, there is plenty of chatter out there about different things, but under the current structure, we are following democracy at its best," Remy says.
Remy is a realtor, a job he says prepared him to serve the entire Columbus metropolitan area.
“Throughout the city of Columbus, there probably hasn’t been a street or alley I haven’t been through, working in real estate," Remy says.
He says his top priority as a council member is safety—something he also focused on in his previous position as president of the Northland Community Council.
“Something I promote religiously in the Northland area is if you see something, you say something," Remy says. "So getting that mantra out there, make sure people understand it’s everybody making a commitment to make our community better is what it’s going to take to make it safer in the city.”
Yes We Can organized a protest outside of City Hall on Monday, while council members met to appoint Remy. Activists have long criticized the appointment system that elected Remy and want it abolished, arguing that council vacancies should be filled by special elections.
They also are advocating to change council elections to a ward system, with members elected from specific geographic districts rather than by the entire city-at-large.
Despite the pushback against his appointment, Remy says he has faith in the system and doesn’t intend to change it.
“We have a structure in place today, and that’s the area commissions and the civic commissions that are out there," Remy says. "Those are in place, so what we need to do today is to work on the platform... for them to get their voices heard.”