The Lebanon City Council member who brought abortion ban legislation to Ohio has resigned from his position as president of the city’s downtown development organization.
Council member Adam Mathews served as president of the board of directors of Main Street Lebanon, a group of 146 business owners that works to improve and promote the central business district in this Southwest Ohio city of 20,000.
Mathews co-sponsored city legislation in May to declare Lebanon a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” The ordinance makes it illegal to provide an abortion, aid an abortion, provide money or transportation for an abortion and provide instructions for an abortion in Lebanon. The city has no abortion clinics and there are no plans to build a clinic.
Main Street Lebanon conducted an anonymous survey in July asking businesses to compare their sales this year after the council passed the abortion ban to the same three weeks in 2020 and 2019.
Thirty-eight business owners responded to the survey and reported that, overall, sales in June 2021 suffered when compared to 2020 and 2019.
The board accepted Mathews' resignation at an emergency meeting held on August 26, according to an email to Main Street Lebanon members from Secretary Kara Nolan and Treasurer Janet Steinke.
City council candidate Alecia Lipton resigned from her position as executive director of Main Street Lebanon on August 25.
Lipton said in an email to The Enquirer she felt Mathews was not acting in the best interests of Lebanon businesses and her hands were tied when it came to making a difference in her role.
Nolan and Steinke said Mathews put in his resignation at the board's meeting on June 8. Lipton disputes that claim.
Lipton said in an email to members that she asked Mathews to step down as president at the June 8 meeting because she felt there was a conflict of interest with his position on council. Mathews refused and pointed out there was no active vice president to replace him, she said.
The June 8 meeting minutes do not include a record of Mathews submitting his resignation, nor of Lipton asking him to resign. The minutes from the board's July 13 meeting show Mathews acting as president.
Mathews told The Enquirer he offered his resignation in June and the board didn’t accept it until last week. He said he already had plans to resign at the end of the year and he wanted to create stability and help with the transition in any way he could.
The board has selected Sonya Staffan as its new president. Staffan owns two local businesses: Jam & Jelly Lady and Oh Suzanna, a women's clothing store.
"I'm very excited for Sonya to step in to the role as president," Mathews said.
The board is currently accepting applications to fill the executive director position.
Erin Glynn is the watchdog reporter for Butler, Warren and Clermont counties through the Report For America program. The Enquirer needs local donors to help fund her grant-funded position. If you want to support Glynn's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at this website or email her editor Carl Weiser at [email protected] to find out how you can help fund her work.
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