Rich Jablonski is now the president of the Columbus City Council.
Jablonski was unanimously (5-0; Councilwoman Hope Freshour was absent and there is one open First Ward seat) elected president by his fellow council members during Monday night’s City Council meeting.
“I feel humbled people think I can do this job,” Jablonski said, after the meeting. “Hopefully, my years of service will prove them right.”
This will mark Jablonski’s first time as council president, though he’s a seasoned veteran of the government body representing the Third Ward since 2010 (he was reelected in 2014, 2018 and 2022).
Throughout the years, Jablonski has been an active community member serving Columbus beyond his tenure on the council. He has been a Sertoma Club member since 1985 (was named Sertoman of the Year in 2008); past Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce skipper (2002-2003); past treasurer of the Chamber Board of Directors (2003-2004); past president of the Big Pals-Little Pals of Greater Columbus (1990); past co-chairman of the general business division of the Columbus Area United Way; a charter member of the St. Isidore’s Knights of Columbus; and a proud member of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church since 1978, among other things.
Councilman Charlie Bahr made the motion nominating Jablonski, noting he felt his character made him the perfect person to take on the role.
“I think he will make a good leader,” Bahr said. “I think he has good judgment and always makes good decisions level-headed with no knee-jerk reactions. He thinks everything through.”
In November 2023, former Council President Beth Augustine-Schulte resigned because she was moving out of the First Ward she represented; however, the City Council annually at the first meeting in December elects one of its own to take over as president for the upcoming year. So, the timing was perfect.
Mayor Jim Bulkley is still looking to appoint someone to fill Augustine-Schulte’s unexpired term representing the First Ward. You can learn more about that by clicking here.
As for Jablonski assuming his new role role, Bulkley said he’s looking forward to working with him as the new council president.
“I’m very excited Rich was elected council president,” Bulkley said. “He certainly has a lot of experience being involved with the council, and I think that’s important. I think he will be able to give some good input and guidance when we get into the many, many discussions that we often have.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley, left, talks with new Council President Rich Jablonski after the City Council meeting on Dec. 4, 2023, in the Columbus Community Building. Jablonski said he's humbled to have been elected the council's president..)
Jablonski will have to move from his longtime right-corner seat on the council podium toward the center, as the council president historically sits two seats away from the mayor and next to the city administrator.
Jablonski was all smiles after the meeting, noting how the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District recently held its meeting at the Columbus Community Building and praised the facility. He’s proud of his community as a whole.
“It’s an interesting time in Columbus,” Jablonski said. “It’s pretty exciting. We’ve got a lot of good things going on and it’s just great to be part of it.”
Watch the quick City Council meeting recap by clicking here.
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