- Steven Matthews Staff Writer
The woman who was passed over for the Huber Heights Ward 5 council seat spoke publicly for the first time this week, saying she was used as a pawn on the mayor’s chess board.
Eva Newby — who spoke during public comment at Monday night’s City Council meeting — said the council seat was “held hostage” and “the citizens of Ward 5 were getting the short end of the stick by having no representation” for nearly two months as the seat was vacant.
Tracy Dudley resigned from council in January.
“I have been used as a pawn on a chess board, with the mayor (Tom McMasters) making ultimatums in front of the media,” said Newby, who is black. “I have never been so embarrassed to say that I’m a resident. My priority to fill the position was for the well-being of the citizens of Huber Heights. I think something needs to be done to rectify what has been done to make us look like a laughingstock.”
Newby’s comments came just minutes after Nancy Byrge publicly took the oath of office for the Ward 5 seat. McMasters swore in Byrge to fill the vacant Ward 5 seat and administered the oath of office to her privately Sunday night.
Byrge — who is white and did not apply for the position — assumed the office and duties as the Ward 5 representative, effective immediately with the appointment.
Byrge had been serving on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Newby, who also is on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals, applied and was one of three applicants interviewed by council to fill the seat.
“I do understand your frustration,” McMasters said.
After Newby spoke, Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP, addressed council for nearly 11 minutes. He alluded that an investigation may be necessary.
“Maybe we need to dig deeper and investigate the council,” Foward said. “Maybe investigate the backgrounds. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”
Earlier this month, McMasters announced he was seeking applicants to fill the vacancy for Ward 5.
The authority for making the appointment for the Ward 5 vacancy shifted to McMasters under the City Charter after council failed to fill the position within thirty days of the vacancy. Council could not agree on a replacement for Dudley during its Feb. 22 meeting.
A motion to appoint Newby failed after three councilmen, Tyler Starline, Glenn Otto and Richard Shaw, voted against the measure. Councilwoman Janell Smith abstained from the vote.
The vote was taken after Councilman Ed Lyons asked his colleagues about their willingness to appoint a black woman to the vacant seat on council. That prompted McMasters to say that “Ed is about the stupidest person I think I ever met and a sleazeball.”
McMasters said in an email that based on Lyons’ comments and his own reaction, he was putting off considering Newby or Wamsley.
McMasters had indicated at that Feb. 22 meeting he had intended to appoint Newby if council failed to act.
“Do the right thing and live up to what it is that you stated,” said Foward, who said in a phone conversation with McMasters that the mayor said he if appointed Newby, “Ed is going to win.”
“Let the personalities go by the wayside,” Foward said. “There’s a lot of good things going on in Huber Heights. But it’s turning into a not-so-good environment for the citizens. Any elected official should be in the business to serve and to help the people. If that’s what we’re in the business to do, let’s do it.”
McMasters admitted he was aggravated and mad about the accusations made at that Feb. 22 meeting.
“I made an appointment of someone who is highly qualified, who’s very involved in the community and who will represent the community very well,” McMasters said.