Bexley City Council race
Lewis applying service experience to decisive role
If elected to Bexley City Council in November, Anne Lewis said much of her focus would be on working with fellow council members and Mayor Ben Kessler in promoting economic development and diversifying the city's revenue base.
In order to increase revenue, the city should focus on revitalizing East Livingston Avenue and developing Cassady Avenue and other areas, Lewis said.
"We've got to get all corners of the city like Main Street," she said. One of the biggest challenges "continues to be developing and maintaining all parts of the city."
Lewis has served on council since she was appointed to fill a spot vacated by Ben Kessler in March 2012. Kessler left council to take over as mayor following the death of John Brennan. Because Lewis was appointed in the middle of Kessler's term, her position that will appear on the ballot is for a two-year term, not the typical four.
Lewis grew up in Bexley and graduated from Bexley High School in 1984. She and her husband, Tom, have five children.
Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in human development/psychology. She previously worked for the Columbus Foundation and the Ohio State University Medical Center before joining the pharmaceutical company Merck in 1997.
For the past five years, Lewis has overseen Bexley's Fourth of July activities and participated in the Bexley Celebrations Association. She also has served as a board member of both the Bexley Public Library and the Bexley Education Foundation.
Lewis said she is learning to apply her community service to her role on council. While most volunteer projects have a tangible, immediate outcome, council's decisions tend to yield long-term results, she said.
"It's a very different process. It's a very different sense of accomplishment," Lewis said. "It's redefining what accomplishment means."
Council members have been able to maintain a good working relationship and engage in vigorous debates over important issues while respecting each other's positions, Lewis said.
"When meetings tend to run long, it's because we're trying to figure out how people think," Lewis said. "I think people have an inherent respect for each other because it's a challenging service that affects a lot of people."
A major aspect of council's work is finding a balance between supporting the mayor in economic-development projects and other initiatives while holding him accountable, Lewis said.
"I think the role that council plays is to figure out how to best support and challenge the mayor," she said. "You don't want to rein somebody in, but you want to challenge them."
Lewis, who is chairwoman of council's Safety Committee, said promoting volunteerism and encouraging residents to get involved also is important.
The community's continued viability hinges on identifying strategies that will "create a new momentum of volunteerism in the city and create a bigger sense of engagement," she said.
City officials' focus should be on "how do we positively address and engage (residents) on the issues that are most challenging," she said.