Mike Coleman and Shannon Hardin


Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and former Mayor Mike Coleman

The two men stand next to one another, each dressed in blue suit jackets and white shirts, standard politician attire. One is the 66-year-old former mayor of Columbus, the first Black man to fill the role, whose 16-year tenure transformed the city. The other is his 33-year-old protégé, the first Black gay man to serve as City Council president, whose career is still taking shape.

Mike Coleman holds a glossy publication commemorating his City Hall years. The document records his many mayoral achievements (job growth, financial stability, a Downtown renaissance), and he and Shannon Hardin, the man who’s replaced him as City Hall’s top Black political leader, enjoy looking through its 25 pages, laughing and reminiscing in the empty City Council chambers. This is now the home turf of Hardin, council’s leader since January 2018, but he tends to defer to his elder on this Wednesday morning in March. Even in his post-City Hall days, Coleman commands a room, and Hardin, who’s been learning from Coleman since childhood, is used to letting him lead.



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