Osili expected to step into Indy council presidency if Clay is removed Monday

February 19, 2018

If Indianapolis City-County Council president Stephen Clay is removed from the position tonight, another leader is waiting in the wings: Vop Osili.

The Democratic caucus of the council is supporting Osili’s bid for the presidency position, according to the council member.If elected, he said, his first order of business would be to “rebuild the public’s trust in the council” after a chaotic start to 2018, which started with the ouster of the council’s longtime president Maggie Lewis in favor of fellow Democrat Clay. The rancor has resulted in the firing of two Council employees, and a lawsuit and Clay's presidency and a looming vote to remove him Monday night.

“The politics in the council have been the focus and not the issues that we were elected to address,” Osili told IBJ. “My goal right now is to end the finger-pointing and any dysfunction and focus on governing.

“My plan is to spend time with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and evaluate where we go from here,” he said. "What are our priorities and how do we collectively address the larger issues that are of great interest to our taxpayers: public safety, infrastructure and economic development?"

Osili was elected to the council in 2011 and represents downtown and near-downtown District 11. He is an architect and has a master’s degree in architecture and urban design from Columbia University. He previously made an unsuccessful bid for Indiana Secretary of State.

Osili said he decided to run for the presidency position after talking with Lewis.

Though he said as president he would be bale to “put fresh eyes” on the city’s issues, Osili also said he was thankful for Lewis’ leadership.

“I would say she has accomplished a tremendous amount,” Osili said. “She’s made history. I think she’s been tremendous."

He did not, however, comment about Clay’s leadership these past several weeks.

“We are focused on governing and moving forward,” he said.

But before Osili could be elected to the seat, Clay would need to be removed. Clay has fought back against his Democratic colleagues, who have been angered by the politics of his ascendancy to the position. With the support of a majority of council Republicans, he unseated Lewis in a leadership vote and then made the highly unusual move of awarding chairmanships of three council committees to Republicans.

It appeared that hostilities had hit a lull on Friday after the foes had reached a settlement over who would preside as parliamentarian over Monday night's meeting, during which a vote on Clay’s presidency is expected. But later in the day released an agenda for the meeting that left off the matter of the proposal to oust him.

Osili said Monday morning that he doesn’t have any worries about how the vote will play out.


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