Outgoing City Law Director Appointed to Vacant At-large Council Seat
Staff Report, 01-29-2020

Former Law Director Russ Balthis is administered the oath of office by Mayor Don Walters after being appointed to an at-large city council seat.
Staff Photo
Outgoing Cuyahoga Falls Law Director Russ Balthis was appointed to a vacant at-large seat on Cuyahoga Falls City Council Tuesday evening, solidifying the council’s nine-seat Democratic majority. The Summit County Democratic Party’s Central Committee called for the Precinct Committee meeting necessary for the appointment to be held Tuesday evening at Market District, and a who’s who of city and county Democrats were in attendance, some of whom briefly addressed the group in hopes of securing their votes in the upcoming primary and general elections. Mayor Don Walters nominated Balthis to the seat, and Balthis’ likely successor in the city Law Department, Janet Ciotola, seconded. Both spoke briefly in support of Balthis’ appointment to the council as Balthis himself looked on, holding back tears.

“[Balthis] treats everyone with kindness and respect,” Ciotola said. “It wasn’t lost on me that after his last council meeting as Law Director, he received wonderful accolades from all council members.”

As the Falls Free Press previously reported, Balthis recently announced his intention to step down from his position as the city’s Law Director to enter private law practice in Cleveland. Since city employees cannot serve on council, his decision to do so frees him to serve in the seat left vacant by Democratic at-large Councilman Tim Gorbach for the two years remaining in its term. Gorbach was elected to a different at-large seat in the 2019 election.

“I am so honored to be given this opportunity to serve my community,” Balthis said. “I could not be more excited to work with the Mayor, fellow members of Council and all residents to continue to improve our city.”

After the official nomination by the Mayor and Ciotola’s second, and with no other nominees, Precinct Committeepersons voted unanimously to appoint Balthis to the at-large seat. Immediately afterward, Mayor Walters administered the oath of office, making the appointment official.

"Russ has served as the Cuyahoga Falls Law Director for the 6 years I have been in office and has been an integral part of my administration,” Mayor Walters said. “He has a brilliant legal mind and is very resident-focused. He will do a phenomenal job on City Council."

Balthis will begin his tenure on city council when he attends his first meeting as Councilman Balthis on Monday, February 3rd, when he will have the opportunity to vote to confirm Ciotola as Law Director.

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