Eight Hilliard residents were interviewed for the vacancy on city council April 26.

Eight Hilliard residents were interviewed for the vacancy on city council April 26.

They were interviewed in the Municipal Building by the current council members for the seat held by Dan Nichter, who resigned last month.

Each candidate had 15 minutes to outline their credentials and answer similar questions from council. The questions included what drew them to Hilliard, what is the city's biggest challenge over the next five years, and would they run in next year's elections?

The candidates all answered the latter question in the affirmative, and gave mostly similar answers on the other questions, including the priority of maintaining public safety and basic services, infrastructure and attracting new businesses to Hilliard.

Council president Brett Sciotto also asked each candidate why they didn't run for council in 2009.

Scott Movshin, terminal manager for CSX Intermodal, said his company wanted to promote him last fall, but he opted to stay in Hilliard. "A personal agenda is not as important as a public agenda," Movshin said. He was the only candidate to be in a phone interview.

Cornell Robertson, highway design engineer for the Franklin County Engineer's office, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien told him serving on council would not be a conflict of interest. Robertson brought his wife to council chambers, and said, "We feel Hilliard is family-friendly."

Tony Starcher, an attorney and faculty member of Franklin and Kaplan universities, said council member Stephanie Kunze inspired her to apply for the position. "I've been in line with a lot of your decisions," Starcher told council. The former West Virginia resident also expressed concern about the city's crime rates.

Rick Theisen, who has held a variety of sales and management positions, said listening and learning equals leadership. Because Theisen is also seeking full-time employment, he said "I have time like never before to go out and be available" for Hilliard.

Nathan Painter, an attorney who also serves on the Board of Zoning Appeals, said he wanted to make sure "the city has the right mix of commercial and residential development." He said compromise was fine, but "if I can't look at myself in the mirror, then I can't make that decision."

Doug Lessells, a trustee for Destination Hilliard and a former WCMH-TV sportscaster, said he wasn't able to run for council last year, because his communications position at the time would have presented a conflict of interest. He called Hilliard "the best-kept secret in central Ohio."

Bill Uttley, a three-term councilman and board member for the Hilliard Community Foundation, said term limits kept him from running for re-election last year. The lifelong Hilliard resident said he missed his former colleagues, and now that the term limits were repealed, he'd like to return from his "vacation" from council.

Joseph Erb, grassroots director/lobbyist for Strategic Public Partners Group, said he moved from New Jersey to study political science at Ohio State University. "I want to help Hilliard think outside the box," Erb said.

After the interviews, council will select their top three candidates, have extended interviews with them on May 3, and decide whom to appoint either at that time or during the May 10 council meeting.