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Columbus mayor won't seek 5th term, plans to focus on Democratic convention, mum on 2016 plans

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said Tuesday he won't seek re-election to a record fifth term and will instead focus on unfinished business, with his top priority the city's bid to host the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention in 2016.

Coleman, a Democrat who ran a short-lived race for governor in 2006, wouldn't address future political plans and whether he pondered a run for national office — perhaps U.S. Senate — in 2016.

"It's not even on my radar screen, but I never say no," said Coleman, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2015.

Coleman, who turned 60 last week, said his latest birthday influenced his decision not to run next year.

"It did force me to think about my future for a change, that there's so much more in life yet to do, mountains to climb and rivers to cross," he said.

Coleman, first elected in 1999, is the city's first black mayor and also its longest-serving. Coleman's priorities as mayor have included neighborhood revitalization and downtown development, with more than 5,500 downtown apartments and condominiums built or under construction. He also expanded bike lanes throughout the city and pushed for changes in the troubled school system.

PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, right, with girlfriend Janelle Simmons, signals supporters after announcing he won't run for re-election in 2015, on Tuesday, Nov. 25, in Columbus, Ohio. Coleman, a Democrat, said he'll focus on the city's bid to host the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention in 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, right, with girlfriend Janelle Simmons, signals supporters after announcing he won't run for re-election in 2015, on Tuesday, Nov. 25, in Columbus, Ohio. Coleman, a Democrat, said he'll focus on the city's bid to host the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention in 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Columbus is the country's 15th biggest city, the largest in Ohio and the fastest-growing in the Midwest.

Coleman's announcement, in city council chambers surrounded by family and supporters, came the day after Democratic National Committee members named the city a finalist for the party convention along with Philadelphia and New York. The decision eliminated Birmingham, Alabama, and Phoenix from the running.

Columbus' place on the short list retains the possibility that Ohio would play host to both parties' conventions in the same year. Republicans have picked Cleveland as their convention site.

Coleman said the DNC's announcement didn't affect his decision, which had already been made. But he promised a push to win the bid and a bigger push to prepare if Columbus is selected.

"Even if we lose the convention we've already won," Coleman added. "Five years ago, no one would have thought that the Democratic convention could even be considered in the city of Columbus. Now not only are we considered, we're a finalist."


Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

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