The Athens city Democratic Central Committee voted Friday to appoint LGBT Center Director Micah McCarey to an at-large seat on Athens City Council to replace former Member Beth Clodfelter who resigned in May.
McCarey, 35, said during the meeting that he was looking to bring a diverse voice to Athens City Council. Since 2019, McCarey has been the director of the Ohio University
“I am seeking City Council because I would like to make the city’s work around diversity and inclusion, and really other areas, more visible,” McCarey said. “There’s so much magic in Athens and so often folks don’t even recognize that we have so many wonderful things going on.”
McCarey’s new tenure on the Council is notable because he represents identities that have not been seen on Athens City Council in years: he is Black, gay, and a renter.
Athens City Council has been criticized in recent years by City Council candidate Damon Krane and even by outgoing members of the body, for lacking 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, he wants to draw more diversity to the city. He also said he wants to increase communication in the city and resident input toward the 2040 city comprehensive plan.
He said his educational background in communications will help him.
“So good processes, and making sure people feel heard, communicating in a way that’s crafted to a variety of learning styles, all of those things are really important,” McCarey said.
The Athens city Democratic Central Committee voted unanimously to appoint him to Council, as well as replace Clodfelter, who had submitted the required signatures to the Board of Elections, on the November ballot for an at-large City Council position.
Clodfelter announced earlier this month she was leaving her position on Council to take a position with Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office.
McCarey was appointed interim director of the Ohio University LGBT Center in May 2019 after his predecessor, deflin bautista, was terminated for misusing university funds. McCarey became full-time director of the office in December that year.
He grew up in Oberlin, OH and moved to Athens for college at 18 and has not looked back since. He has three degrees from Ohio University, including a master’s in human development and and PhD in positive psychology and decision making.
He and his partner rent on the east side.
When placed on the ballot in November, McCarey will be running against incumbent Democrat Sarah Grace, who voted to appoint McCarey on Thursday, Democrat Ben Ziff, as well as independents Damon Krane and Iris Virjee.
Krane, who has often criticized Athens City Council for lacking in diversity, commended his opponents on Facebook for selecting McCarey, and said he was glad to see another renter on council. Ziff is also a renter.
He said McCarey will be a tough competitor in the November election, citing his progressive agenda and diverse identity.
“Micah is the first openly queer person on council in (I’m pretty sure) more than a decade, and the first Black person in who knows how many decades,” Krane said on Facebook. “I’m curious to see what he does on council these next few months of course, but regardless I’d call his appointment good news!”