|Member of the
Indianapolis City-County Council
from the 15th district
January 1, 2012
|Succeeded by||Doris Minton-McNeill|
|Spouse(s)||Una Okonkwo Osil|
|Alma mater||Carnegie-Mellon University
Samuel Ifeanyi "Vop" Osili, Jr. is a Democratic politician from Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a member of the Indianapolis City-County Council from the 15th district, in the southwestern portion of Center Township. On December 22, 2011; an Indiana judge declared him the secretary of state-elect of Indiana due to first-place finisher Charlie White's ineligibility, though this was later reversed on appeal.
Osili was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to a Nigerian father and an American mother. He was said to be a very talkative as a toddler, which led his parents to nickname him "Vop"--short for "Voice of the People." The nickname stuck. In the midst of the Nigerian Civil War, he and his mother fled back to the United States; his father didn't follow them for another five years. They settled in his maternal grandparents' home in Haughville.
Education and Early Career
Osili graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a bachelor's degree in architecture, and earned a master's degree in architecture and urban design from Columbia University. He later served as a missionary to Haiti and other developing countries. He is a founding partner of A2SO4, an Indianapolis-based architectural design company that was one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified firms in the nation. He was a member of the Indiana Fire and Building Services Commission from 2001 to 2005, and chairman of the Indianapolis Board of Zoning Appeals from 2005 to 2008. At various times, he served as a member of the boards of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, the United Way of Central Indiana and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Secretary of State of Indiana
In 2010, Osili was the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State of Indiana, pledging to reinvigorate the business services section of the office. He was initially a heavy underdog against Republican candidate Charlie White. However, White came under fire for claiming his former home in Fishers as his official residence and continuing to serve on the Fishers town council even after moving out of town, and for voting in his old precinct in the Republican primary. Polls initially showed Osili gaining ground on White in the Indianapolis area as a result of the controversy. However, in the November election, Osili was swept under a massive Republican wave that swept through Indiana, taking only 37 percent of the vote.
The Democrats subsequently filed suit to overturn White's victory, claiming that since Secretary of State candidates must be registered voters, they must be registered legally and therefore White was ineligible to run. However, the state Recount Commission dismissed the Democrats' claim. The Democrats appealed, and on April 7 Marion County judge Louis Rosenberg ordered the Recount Commission to make a ruling on the legality of White's registration. The commission voted unanimously to clear White, accepting his claim that he intended to use his old home as his permanent address. The Democrats asked Rosenburg to review the decision, which he did (in White's absence) on November 23. He was expected to make a ruling in 30 days.
2011 Election Certification
On December 22, 2011, Rosenberg ruled that White had in fact violated election law, and that he had been ineligible to run. Rosenberg ordered the Recount Commission to remove White from office and declare Osili as the winner by default. White immediately announced he would appeal, and asked Rosenberg to stay his ruling until a higher court could hear the case. The next day, Rosenburg issued a temporary stay on his own ruling until January 3, 2012. On January 4, Rosenburg ruled that White could stay in office while his appeal worked its way through the courts. If Osili ultimately became Secretary of State, he would have been the first Democrat to hold that post since 1994.
According to Jim Shella, political reporter at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, if Osili ultimately became Secretary of State, the Republicans would have legally received no votes in the Secretary of State's race. This would drop them below the 10 percent threshold required to retain major-party status in the state (major party status is determined by Secretary of State results).
On February 4, 2012, White was convicted of six felonies related to his actions in the 2010 election, thus automatically removing him from office; Indiana, like most states, does not allow convicted felons to hold office. White tried to get the charges reduced to misdemeanors at sentencing, but Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Steven Nation refused to do so, thus ending any chance of White regaining office even if Rosenberg's ruling giving the office to Osilli had been reversed on appeal. Governor Mitch Daniels appointed White's deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as interim Secretary of State. If Rosenberg's ruling were to be reversed, Daniels would be allowed to appoint a permanent successor. However, the Indiana Supreme Court threw out Rosenburg's ruling, holding that the Democrats had filed their challenge too late. The court's decision allowed Daniels to appoint a permanent successor.
2011 City-County Council election
Osili was elected to represent the 15th district on the City-County Council in November 2011, taking 80 percent of the vote.
- Chapman, Sandra. Fathers take different paths but share similar message. WTHR, 2009-02-26.
- Osili's biography at campaign site]
- Kelly, Niki. Secretary of state race all about voting. Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 2010-10-24.
- Meet VOP Osili, a Nigerian-American running for Secretary of State in Indiana in the upcoming U.S. November elections. Creating Progress Africa, 2010-10-28.
- Shella, Jim. Investigation Looms over Inauguration. WISH-TV, 2011-01-06.
- Shella, Jim. Charlie White's Dilemma. WISH-TV, 2011-04-08.
- Shella, Jim. Charlie White Survives Challenge. WISH-TV, 2011-06-28.
- Ritchie, Carrie. White is a no-show in court. Indianapolis Star, 2011-11-24.
- Ruling by Louis Rosenberg
- Ritchie, Carrie; Schneider, Mary Beth. Order allows Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White to hold office pending hearing. The Indianapolis Star, 2011-12-24.
- Shella, Jim. Judge Rules Charlie White can Stay (for now). WISH-TV, 2012-01-04.
- Shella, Jim. Charlie White could damage GOP more than you think. WISH-TV, 2011-03-11.
- Ritchie, Carrie. Indiana ex-Secretary of State Charlie White gets 1 year of home detention. The Indianapolis Star. 2012-02-24. URL:http://www.indystar.com/article/20120224/LOCAL/202240331/Ex-secretary-state-gets-year-home-detention. Accessed: 2012-02-24. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/65h3zfsMK)