Dems Discuss

Welcome to Dems Discuss!

Dems Discuss is an opportunity for you to hear from local elected Democrats! Regularly, we will sit down with local officials and interview them about their jobs, how they got into politics, and exciting projects going on throughout the county!

Christine Knisely

Athens City Council President

Photo by Trisha Smathers

Everyone meet City Council President Christine Knisely!

Serving as the President of Athens City Council, Christine Knisely has been an instrumental part of the Athens community and has been very active in her work on and off of council. Christine came to Athens to work at Ohio University and later to get her master’s degree in public administration and never left. The beautiful terrain and outdoors of Athens are one of the many reasons why she loves living here so much. 

Her work as part of the League of Women Voters along with the Southside Neighbor Association spurred her desire to hold an elected position. Christine was selected to fill the unexpired term of a Council member in 2008 and has played a vital role in council functions ever since. 

As City Council President, she has many different responsibilities and her weekly schedule can vary a lot. She is in close contact with city council members, council committee chairs, and Mayor Patterson in order to ensure that everything is running smoothly. In committee meetings, there is a wide array of topics discussed such as tuition reimbursement policy and the tax incremental affordable housing.

Whether she is wearing her City Council President cap or her passionate neighbor cap, Christine is constantly working to make the City of Athens a healthier, cleaner, and more well-connected place. One of Christine’s main projects while on council has been to strengthen the relationship between the City of Athens and Ohio University. She is currently involved in planning the Ohio Town Gown Summit that will be held in Athens this summer as an opportunity for Ohio’s city and university staff to meet, identify common challenges, share best practices, and learn from one another. 

In her early work with the City, Christine was  involved with Project CLEAN, with a goal to tighten up enforcement of  codes involving solid waste, and to make the city a cleaner and greener place. The work of Project CLEAN led to adding the word “graffiti” to code, making homeowners/renters responsible for keeping their home, sidewalk, and 18 inches out from the curb litter free. Fees instituted by the city as part of these endeavors, led to hiring a city solid waste control officer to monitor and enforce all of the above.

If there is one thing that you should know about Christine Knisely, it is that her sense of persistence, which some may mistake for stubbornness, has helped her move things forward and make the city of Athens a better and cleaner place than she found it. 

If you see her around the neighborhood, say hello!

Beth Clodfelter

Athens City Council At-Large

Everyone meet Athens City Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter!

Serving her first term on City Council, Beth has been enjoying her time adjusting to her new role. As a fourth generation locally elected official, Beth knew her entire life that she was meant to hold an elected position. The seed of her interest in running was planted when Beth was just five years old. Her grandfather sat her on his knee and taught her the importance of public service and that has always stuck with her. While her family has played a role in her decision to run, it was really the people of Athens who inspired her to do so. Beth shared that “most of the people I know here in Athens are trying to make this community and this world a better place. So many people care here and it led me to caring about this place and wanting to make a difference in the community”.

Since she was sworn in on January 5th, Beth has been a part of many exciting projects on council. One thing that Beth has been particularly enthusiastic about is the Climate Emergency Resolution that was proposed by fellow City Councilwoman Chris Fahl and unanimously passed by the rest of Council. Athens is the first city in Ohio to pass a Climate Emergency in an effort to protect and restore the climate. According to Beth, “it serves as an umbrella to propose more sustainability related ordinances”. The Climate Emergency Resolution is something that Beth is particularly excited about, as climate change is an issue that is of great importance to her.

Another project that Beth is excited about is the Tree Planting Initiative set to take place in April as a part of both Athens Beautification Day and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. With the help of volunteers, she hopes that we will be able to plant hundreds of trees throughout the city.

One thing that is extremely important to Beth is making herself well known by her constituents throughout the community. She attends neighborhood specific events and meetings in order to be present in the community as an At-Large City Councilwoman. In addition, a top priority for Beth is making herself accessible to her constituents. On the second Wednesday of every month, she will be at The Village Bakery from 5:30pm-7pm to talk with constituents about their ideas, concerns, and questions.

Beth is a passionate and empowered Democrat. She “cares about fairness, people and the planet”. If there is one thing that you should know about Beth, it is that she is committed to continuing to make Athens a great place to live with a cleaner environment to go along with it for generations to come.

If you see her around the neighborhood, say hello!

Ric Wasserman

Athens County Treasurer

Everyone meet Athens County Treasurer Ric Wasserman!

Serving as County Treasurer for Athens since 2018, Ric Wasserman has used his expansive business experience to excel in his role and make the Treasurer’s office as efficient and accessible as possible. Ric came to Athens to attend Ohio University in 1983. He loved the community and physical beauty of Athens so much that he returned five years later to make it home. On top of his various business endeavors, Ric worked within the party and for various candidates for nearly eighteen years before defeating his Republican challenger in 2018.

Ric’s approach to running the Treasurer’s office is very similar to the way in which he runs his businesses. His number one priority is to remain as accessible to his constituents as possible. His door is always open for individuals to stop by with any questions or concerns they may have.

One project that Ric is particularly excited about is the Athens County Land Bank. The Land Bank provides a unique opportunity to rebuild communities throughout Athens County. The Land Bank aims to get rid of dilapidated and abandoned properties in order to make communities more appealing and safe.

If there is one thing that you should know about Ric, it is that he truly works in the best interest of his constituents and neighbors. He sees himself as an activist treasurer. He is constantly out in the community, talking to his constituents, and helping those he represents in any way that he can. Ric loves his job and going to work every day and is excited about the prospect of serving another term as County Treasurer as he is running for reelection in the extended primary.

If you see him around the neighborhood, say hello!