Athens Mayor Steve Patterson discusses the firing of John Paszke. Video by Katherine Carragher.

City Code Enforcement Director Terminated

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In accordance with a vision for the future of the city, a city employee has been removed from his post, according to city officials.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson terminated Code Enforcement Director John Paszke on Monday morning, which WOUB confirmed with Patterson and Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas.

“At this time, Mayor Patterson wanted to make a change in leadership of code,” Lucas said. “It’s just a vision the mayor has for that part of the city and he wanted to make a change.”

The mayor cited a “behavioral culture” within the code enforcement office that he thought was counter productive.

“Now it’s time to redirect that and kind of break up or change behaviors, and put people on a new path with what I think is the right way to enforce code,” Patterson said.

Lucas is now interim director for Code Enforcement while the search for a replacement begins. He will serve both his role as deputy service safety director and code enforcement director until a hire is made, he said.

The city is looking for a new director familiar with changing legislation and willing to take on the challenge of improving the city code.

“There’s a vision in place for the code director, and primarily that vision is that the new hire…will have some opportunity to find out what weaknesses there are in the city code from an enforcement standpoint and take corrective actions to make those enforcements better,” Lucas said.

The termination comes as Patterson pledged to city residents at a “Meet the Mayor” event that code enforcement would be a focus of his administration. He told attendees of the event last week at the Athens Community Center that there would be “no flavor of the week” when it came to what parts of the code would be enforced.

“We really need to have a stronger enforcement of the code,” Patterson said.

A timeline has not been put in place for the hiring of a new director, but Lucas said it would not be a time-consuming process.

“It’s hard to give an exact timeline right now because we haven’t really even advertised it yet, but that could be soon,” Lucas said. “I can say that it’s probably going to move quickly.”

Patterson was unavailable to comment on Tuesday morning.