Columbus City Council members Grace Kestler and Frank Miller had history-making roles for the first Council meeting of 2024 Tuesday night, serving as the first council members to lead the meeting as a second class city.
Under the new second class city status with the state, Columbus has moved from a seven-person Council that was led by the mayor, to a nine-person council led by a council president. The council president will set the agenda and control the meetings under the new arrangement.
As the last president of the council in 2023, Kestler, a Democrat, led the meeting, overseeing the approval of the minutes and the election of Miller as her successor as council president.
Tuesday night also marked the turnover of the council from control by Democrats 4-3, to again being controlled by Republican majority 5-4 under the new structure. The switch four years ago drew national attention because Democrats had taken control of the council in then Vice President Mike Pence’s home town.
Three-term Councilman Miller was elected as president of the new council and newcomer Kent Anderson will serve as the vice president of the council in the new year.
Miller thanked the council for putting their trust in him with the new council format, and said his 2024 motto is “opportunities to lead together.”
The council voted in 2022 to move the city up to the Class 2 status. At the time it was the largest city of Indiana, still under class 3 governance. By population the city had been eligible to move up for more than 20 years. In July of 2022, when the change was approved, Miller voted against the measure.