By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
After seven years of being the voice of the First Ward, Bowling Green City Council member Daniel Gordon has stepped down.
First elected as a college student, Gordon fought for the rights of those often unheard by city government. He worked to improve East Side neighborhoods and to make the city a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds.
But he steps down from City Council under a cloud of accusations of sexual assault and rape.
Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that his office is looking into the allegations that were reported to the police division by a third party. Hetrick said he could not reveal details.
“I can’t comment on an investigation,” the chief said.
The person making the accusations has not reported them to police. The accusations were posted on social media, including as comments on the Wood County Democratic Party’s Facebook page.
Mike Zickar, president of the Wood County Democratic Party, said he saw the comments last week on the party’s Facebook page.
“I notified the police. I felt like they were the people to investigate,” Zickar said.
“I felt like that was a serious charge, and the party doesn’t have the mechanisms to investigate,” he said.
Council President Mike Aspacher said he was made aware of the social media posts last week, and was aware those were forwarded to the police division.
Gordon had one year left on his council term. Council will follow the same process it has in the past to fill vacancies, Aspacher said. Any First Ward resident interested in the position has until Oct. 31 to submit an application to the city.
Prior to the next council meeting on Nov. 5, a Committee of the Whole meeting will be held to hear from all the applicants. A replacement will be selected at that time, Aspacher said.
Aspacher said Gordon has served the city well during his seven years on council.
“He was always eager to discuss issues of inclusiveness in our community,” Aspacher said.
Gordon provided a valuable connection between the university and the city, Zickar said.
“I feel Daniel brought a real nice link between students and the city,” Zickar said.
Mayor Dick Edwards also praised Gordon’s efforts on council.
“Obviously this comes as quite a surprise,” he said about the resignation.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Daniel,” Edwards said. “He’s reached out to me a number of times and has asked my thoughts on different matters.”
The mayor said Gordon was a responsive council member, who had a good understanding of the need for neighborhood revitalization. He praised Gordon’s efforts on the “Welcoming BG” initiative, and his success at creating Ridge Park.
“I think that was a good accomplishment,” Edwards said.
The mayor agreed with Aspacher that a First Ward replacement should be found by the next meeting. “It’s so important that we get a good person on there right away.”
The First Ward seat will then be on the November 2019 ballot.
Gordon said this morning that he was unaware of the police looking into any accusations against him. He had intended to announce his resignation at Monday’s City Council meeting, but said he was instead in the hospital ER at that time after having an asthma attack. So he emailed his resignation this morning to city officials.
In addition to experiencing some health issues, Gordon said he recently purchased his family’s original home in Bowling Green, which is in the Second Ward. His intent was to fix up the house and move into it following the end of his current term on council. However, it is no longer financially feasible for him to afford that while continuing to reside at his current address, Gordon said.
His resignation letter stated that “serving my constituents has been the honor of my life.”
“I would be remiss if I left without reflecting on what an honor it has been to serve in elected office for nearly seven years. Most people in their twenties do not get to say that they helped govern a city, nor do even many of those who have get to say they did so in such tangible ways,” he wrote to city officials. “Bowling Green is different now, and for the better, because I did my part, and you helped me do it. I want to thank each and every one of you, in addition to my thousands of constituents, for helping me learn what it means to be a true and effective leader.”
During Gordon’s terms on council, he pushed to make the city a welcoming, inclusive place that will not tolerate any form of discrimination. He also worked to better respond to neighborhood concerns of Eastside residents. In particular, he pushed for the creation of Ridge Park – the only park in the First Ward.
“While I feel a real sense of collective and individual accomplishment, I also leave with unfinished business.”
Gordon asked that the city work to establish a mandatory registration program for landlords.
“Our renters deserve homes that, however temporary, are safe and up to code,” he said.
Gordon also asked that City Council consider confronting the Ohio legislature about stripping Bowling Green of millions of dollars over the past decade by cutting Local Government Funds.
“I hope you all fight to get our money back. To that end, I had been crafting a resolution calling for the return of our Local Government Fund monies, and I am happy to share it with any of you who might be willing to carry the torch forward.”
Gordon, who is office manager for a local foster care and adoption agency, said this morning that he hopes to continue working in public service in the future.
“I know that my calling in life is to commit myself to service for others,” he said. “I want to make my corner of the world a better place.”