My Public Service Career
People ask me often, “Why in the world did you choose public service?” It is kind of a funny story.
We moved to Pickerington on my daughter Jessie’s first birthday, nearly 22 years ago, settling in Bentwood Farms. We lived on the main street in the neighborhood, and it was stubbed just a bit past our home. We thought the neighborhood would be kept at the size it was: We totally had first time buyers' naivete. Soon the stub was removed, the street was lengthened considerably, and homes started popping up all around us. As time passed, my daughter, Jessie turned 6, and then her little brother, Tanner came along. By then, the traffic on Bentwood Farms Drive was ridiculous with cars going by at 50+ mph, and drivers not paying attention with my young ones in the front yard. I wound up yelling at people to slow down, which did not make me very popular with my neighbors. But, in my frustration, I worked toward a solution.
I went to my neighborhood association meeting. Most of these volunteer organizations are short handed, and I volunteered as the newest Board Member. My fellow board members suggested I speak to the Township Trustees. So I reached out to Trustee Terry Dunlap to ask if a stop sign or two could be placed on Bentwood Farms Drive, in order to slow traffic down. Mr. Dunlap very kindly said no. A couple of weeks later, I tried again and received the same answer. I asked why the Melrose neighborhood right across the street had stop signs all over the place, and Bentwood Farms couldn’t even have one. His answer was basically, "That’s the city of Pickerington and they do things differently than we do here in the Township." That didn’t make sense.
So I went to a Township meeting and asked again, and once more received an unsatisfactory answer. Gary Weltlich was a relatively new Township Trustee at that time and encouraged me to get involved. Eventually he asked me to run for Lyle Diley’s open seat on the Board. I took a chance and said, “Sure”. I had no idea what I was doing or how to run a campaign. I worked hard, received some great coaching from Ed Laramee, who remains my mentor to this day, and narrowly lost to Mr. Dunlap and Harry Myers.
So there weren’t going to be any stop signs.
My family moved to Manchester in the middle of Manchester Circle North – very little traffic. Some folks in the city had noticed my campaign effort and some of the work I was doing with the “Pickerington Area Taxpayers Alliance” and asked me to run for City Council. In 2005, seven people ran for four seats on Council and I was fortunate enough to take first place in that election. So in January 2006, I was sworn in to my first term. I was re-elected in 2009, 2013, and again last fall. So I’m in my 13th year on Council and have served as President of Council 5 times, Chairman of Finance 5 times, Chairman of Service Committee 4 times, Chairman of Rules twice, and I have served on all four of our committees multiple times.
Early on, State Representative Tim Schaffer encouraged me to get involved with the Fairfield County Republican Party, and I was elected to Central Committee. My first exposure was a bit disconcerting, as Brian Fox had unseated Rep. Schaffer as the new Chairman of the County Republican Party. There was a gigantic split in the party, and a group of us who had formed the “Republican Club of Northwest Fairfield County," which I led, were caught in the middle. Two years later, we partnered with a group from Lancaster and worked very hard to unseat Mr. Fox and others who had taken over the party. Fortunately we were successful, and Steve Davis was elected Chairman of the Party. I was elected to the Executive Committee and became Secretary of the Party. I did that for eight years, through Steve's term and into Kyle Farmer’s term as Chairman. In 2012 I was asked to run for Central Committee Chairman to bring some stability to that role, and was I elected to that position, continuing to serve on Executive Committee. In 2014 Mr. Farmer decided to step aside as Chairman and asked me to run for that office. I did and was elected to serve as Party Chairman. In 2016 I was unanimously selected to continue in that role.
Again, having the opportunity to serve the public in these various roles provides me with the experience and knowledge needed to be an effective County Commissioner.