Mijana Masur

Unassuming and Unopposed


Athens City Council President reflects on her first term

Bennett Leckrone / Slot Editor

In 2010, Chris Knisely had a decision to make.


Knisely, then an At-Large Athens City Council member and Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s director of research and grants, felt she needed to devote her full attention to either the university or Athens. She decided to pursue her work with city council.


“As much as I liked working at the university, I felt like I needed to vote more of my time to either one or the other, and I decided to do the city council work.” Knisely said.


Knisely has been living and working in Athens since 1996. Living in a small town was a welcome change for her — she’d lived in and around metropolitan areas, including Cleveland, Columbus and Washington, D.C., for most of her life.

“We need to work … in the best way that we can with the city administration so that we can be good stewards of our moneys and our resources that we have for the city."– Chris Knisley


“(Athens is) the smallest community I've ever lived in, and I really enjoy that,” Knisely said. “I enjoy that sense of community.”


Prior to moving to Athens, Knisely worked for nonprofit organizations, including the Ohio Humanities Council, a group that promotes the study of humanities.


Knisely, who graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in education, first came to Athens in 1994 as part of a summer seminar that helped middle school teachers get their master's degrees. She returned permanently to work at HCOM in 1996.


When she moved to Athens, Knisely became involved with neighborhood associations but didn’t know if she had the skills to be a council member. In 2008, a departing OU graduate student vacated her At-Large seat, and Knisely’s peers encouraged her to run. She filled the vacant seat and began serving on city council.


After she made her decision to further pursue her council work in 2010, Knisely was elected as council president in December 2014 and began serving in 2015.


Athens Mayor Steve Patterson called Knisely an “outstanding” city council president.


“She has always been, through my lens, an outstanding president of council,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “She has done a fantastic job in terms of communicating, not only with my office, but also with council.”


Council has undertaken many city projects, including the Stimson Avenue roundabout, the approval of improvements to East State Street and the approval of the city’s new pool, since Knisely was elected


“She’s very efficient and professional and tries to look at all sides of an issue,” Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, said in a previous Post report.


Knisely credits council’s success to city employees and her fellow council members.


“It's not because of me,” Knisely said. “It's because of this whole cadre of talented people.”


Knisely, a Democrat who made $8,693 in calendar year 2017, is running unopposed for reelection as council president. She said she hopes to continue working with the city administration during her next term.


“We need to work … in the best way that we can with the city administration so that we can be good stewards of our moneys and our resources that we have for the city,” she said.

Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated Chris Knisely’s salary. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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