Alomar Davenport, who represents the 4th Ward on Mansfield City Council, will become the finance committee chairman in January. (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Alomar Davenport said Thursday night he has big shoes to fill as chair of the Mansfield City Council finance committee.

The 4th Ward Democrat will lead the powerful committee when the new council convenes Jan. 4, replacing Jon Van Harlingen, who narrowly lost a re-election bid in the 3rd Ward last week.

"I have been the vice chair of the committee who the last two years," said Davenport, elected to his first term in 2019. "Jon has been an incredible mentor to me.

"He is someone who has availed himself to me to ask questions and I have done so on a regular basis. There are huge shoes to fill, but I feel I am prepared -- not only from the two years I have been (on council) but also in my work as a sales analyst."

Democrats will continue to control City Council, holding a 5-4 edge when two new members are sworn in. Council will likely vote on the committee assignments at its meeting on Dec. 7.

The council Democrats mapped out new assignments for its 12 committees on Thursday during a meeting at Richland County Democratic Headquarters, 16 S. Park St.

Each committee has three members, including a vice chair. The only member of council who was not designated to lead at least one committee in 2022 was Rev. El Akuchie, who won the 3rd Ward race on Nov. 2.

Though a temporary city budget for 2022 will be done by Dec. 31 under Var Harlingen's watch, a final spending plan must be approved by the end of the first quarter. The city will also receive another $10.5 million in American Rescue Plan federal funds.

Davenport said water and sewer projects should be the city's top priorities.

"We have to have those funds secured," he said. "That's the priority -- the projects we have already scheduled and the ones that are still unforeseen."

Davenport, whose ward includes the former Ocie Hill Neighborhood Center, said he is also interested in learning if ARPA funds can be used to help develop a new community center on the city's north side.

The property at 445 Bowman St. is likely headed to the Richland County Land Bank, clearing the way for demolition and possible redevelopment.

He said the city is waiting to learn if the current usage rules surrounding ARPA funds will be relaxed.

"Until we know that, I can't say what other (spending) priorities would be," he said. "As someone who has been very vocal about a new community center, that is one of the things I am interested in.

"I can't speak on it until we know, but (a community) center is something in the back of my head as something we could possibly use that money for," Davenport said.

Here are other committee chairs selected by Democrats on Thursday:

Airport -- Phil Scott, Democrat (At-large)

Claims -- Stephanie Zader, Republican (At-large)

Economic development -- Kimberly Moton, Democrat (6th Ward)

Employee relations -- Moton

Municipal and public utilities -- Laura Burns, Republican (1st Ward)

Parks and recreation -- Cheryl Meier, Democrat (2nd Ward)

Public affairs -- Davenport

Rules -- Burns

Safety -- Scott

Streets and traffic - Aurelio Diaz, Democrat (5th Ward)

Zoning -- Meier

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"