Athens native Peter Kotses has three fundamental passions: bicycles, streets and his community.
Kotses, a 1992 Ohio University graduate and local business owner, is up for re-election as an incumbent of one of three at-large city council positions.
Kotses, a Democrat, was elected in 2015, making this the first time he’s run for re-election against four other candidates. Of the five candidates who are running, three are on council currently.
“A lot of that first term is just getting your feet wet and understanding what the position is and how it works,” he said. “If I were to move into a second term, what’s cool is I would move up the latter on some of the committees.”
Kotses expressed interest in leading the transportation committee, an issue he has focused on heavily during his time on council.
“You boil back the ingredients to make a city, it’s streets and people,” he said. “If those two don’t exist, you don’t have a city. … It’s the most important property the city owns, so it’s something we can always do a better job of analyzing and providing a better system in which people can get through the city.”
His passion for transportation within the city extends beyond council. Kotses has owned and operated Athens Bicycle, 4 W. Stimson Ave., since it opened in 1998.
“A lot of people love this region, but finding employment and staying is hard,” he said. “When we opened up, it was to provide something for the community that should be present in the community we love.”
Kotses said his business skills transferred over to his position as at-large councilor.
“I have over 40 years within the city limits, so I have a good history of what this town has done and what they’ve been trying to achieve.”–– Peter Kotses
“I see a lot of parallels to what I’ve done for 20 years here being good assets for the job,” he said. “I have to manage a budget and make sure people run a tight ship. Being on council is kind of similar. You have to provide a watchful eye and make sure the funds are being spent in a proper fashion.”
Of his time on council, Kotses cites his proudest moments as the votes he casted in support of the Stimson Avenue roundabout and the bikeway extension bridge over the Hocking River. He made $7,919.55 in calendar year 2017 as a councilman.
“Every street system needs to be analyzed … so people can get around better maybe without a vehicle and so can we encourage a healthier lifestyle for people,” Kotses said, referencing the complete streets project, which is aimed to accommodate multimodal forms of transportation. “If you can make the streets safer, that (could) bring more people out so we have more human interaction. It’s breaking down barriers and making things more accessible.”
Kotses was born to an OU professor and raised in Athens. He lives in the city with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. He believes his 40-plus years of experience with the city gives him an advantage when it comes to being successful in his city council position.
“I have over 40 years within the city limits, so I have a good history of what this town has done and what they’ve been trying to achieve,” he said. “A lot of the initiatives we’re working on now, I can go back and look at why things are the way they are because of things that were happening in the ‘90s.”
Kotses said he would love to continue to serve the city he loves if he is given the chance come Election Day on Nov. 7. The other at-large candidates are Sarah Grace and Noah Trembly and incumbents Arian Smedley, D, and Pat McGee, I.
“I’ve always enjoyed the town,” Kotses said. “It’s a great place to grow up. I was excited that I was able to find something that allowed me to stay and raise a kid here. … Council is just another extension of providing help and assistance to a community I love.”
Originally published for The Post on Nov. 6, 2017.