Springer was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971. He resigned in 1974 after admitting to hiring a prostitute. The episode was uncovered when a police raid on a Fort Wright, Kentucky massage parlor found a check Springer had written pinned to a wall in their office with "for services rendered" written in the memo. Springer came clean at a press conference. Long-time Cincinnati newsman Al Schottelkotte pronounced Springer's career over, but Springer's honesty helped him win back his seat in 1975 by a landslide. In a post-election interview, Schottelkotte good-naturedly reminded Springer that he had declared Springer's career over. Springer told the newsman, "I'm glad that you were wrong. " In 1977, he was chosen to serve one year as mayor by the City Council. Springer could only serve one year as mayor due to a political arrangement at the time (Cincinnati has since changed to direct election of its mayor) that required the Democrats to split the mayoral term with a local centrist group, the Charter Party, with whom the Democrats governed in an electoral alliance. In the City Council and as mayor, Springer supported changing the local election system so that council members would be elected by districts (thus better representing neighborhood interests) instead of "9X" at-large system, but his efforts (as well as those of everyone else, to date, who has supported such a change) did not meet with success.
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