The Athens Democratic Central Committee on Friday voted to appoint LGBT center director Micah McCarey to a general seat on Athens city council to replace former MP Beth Clodfelter who resigned in May.
McCarey, 35, said at the meeting that he was looking to bring a diverse voice to Athens city council. Since 2019, McCarey has served as Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.
“I’m looking for city council because I would like to make the city’s work around diversity and inclusion, and really other areas, more visible,” said McCarey. “There is so much magic in Athens and so often people don’t even recognize that there are so many wonderful things going on.”
McCarey’s new term on Council is remarkable because it represents identities that have not been seen on Athens City Council in years: he is black, gay and a tenant.
The Athens city council has been criticized in recent years by city council candidate Damon Krane and even by outgoing members of the body, for their lack of diversity of thought and identity of race, sexual orientation and class .
Not only does McCarey want to emphasize the diverse community that exists in Athens, but he wants to attract more diversity to the city. He also said he wanted to increase communication in the city and the contribution of residents to the overall city plan 2020.
He said his communication training will help him.
“So good processes, and making sure people feel heard, communicating in a way that’s designed for a variety of learning styles, all of those things are really important,” McCarey said.
The Democratic Central Committee of the City of Athens voted unanimously to appoint him to the Council, as well as to replace Clodfelter, who had submitted the required signatures to the Elections Bureau, in the November ballot for a city council post in general.
Clodfelter announced earlier this month that she was stepping down from her post on the Council to take a stand with Senator Sherrod Brown’s office.
McCarey was appointed interim director in May 2019 after his predecessor, Deflin Bautista, was fired for abusing university funds. McCarey became full-time director of the office in December of the same year.
He grew up in Oberlin, Ohio and moved to Athens for college at age 18 and hasn’t looked back since. He holds three degrees from Ohio University, including a master’s degree in human development and a doctorate in positive psychology and decision-making.
He and his partner are renting from the east side.
When he gets on the ballot in November, McCarey will run against outgoing Democrat Sarah Grace, who voted to nominate McCarey on Thursday, Democrat Ben Ziff, as well as independents Damon Krane and Iris Virjee.
Krane, who has often criticized Athens city council for its lack of diversity, praised opponents on Facebook for choosing McCarey and said he was happy to see another tenant on the council. Ziff is also a tenant.
He said McCarey would be a tough contender in the November election, citing his progressive platform and diverse identity.
“Micah is the first openly queer person on the board for (I’m pretty sure) over a decade, and the first black person in who knows how many decades,” Krane said on Facebook. “I’m curious to see what he’s doing on the board over the next few months, of course, but anyway, I would call his appointment good news!”