Hilliard City Council will vote to fill its vacancy at its May 10 meeting. Each of the three finalists for Dan Nichter's seat -- Doug Lessells, Cornell Robertson and Bill Uttley -- presented his case to council at a special meeting May 3 in City Hall.
Hilliard City Council will vote to fill its vacancy at its May 10 meeting.
Each of the three finalists for Dan Nichter's seat -- Doug Lessells, Cornell Robertson and Bill Uttley -- presented his case to council at a special meeting May 3 in City Hall. After each candidate was interviewed, council deliberated.
Councilwoman Kelly McGivern said all three candidates were experienced in different areas, which makes the decision difficult.
"What skill set will benefit this body the most and who will fit in with us?" asked Councilman Albert Iosue.
"I don't think we lose either way," said Council President Brett Sciotto.
After the interviews, Councilman Jim Ashenhurst said he wasn't prepared to vote until next week, and others agreed.
Nichter resigned March 26 after being indicted on felony bad-check charges.
Robertson, a highway design engineer for the Franklin County Engineer's Office who has lived in Hilliard 17 years, was interviewed first. He said his current position has many similar parallels to the role of a councilman.
Iosue asked Robertson what he thought Hilliard did well and how it needed to improve.
"I think Hilliard is doing a great job on things like snow removal in winter," Robertson said. "Hilliard has a very good mix of residential and commercial development. ... Maybe something we could work on more is to attract more commercial business-type developments and bring in a larger tax base."
Councilwoman Stephanie Kunze and Councilman Tim Roberts asked if Robertson's present job might present a conflict of interest. Robertson said he would abstain on voting on projects that involve both the Franklin County Engineer's Office and the city of Hilliard.
Lessells, a former WCMH-TV and ONN sportscaster who has lived in Hilliard 11 years, was interviewed next. He said his experience in sales, marketing and as an entrepreneur would be useful in promoting Hilliard.
Sciotto asked Lessells what would be his first initiative as a council member.
"I want to schedule a meeting with (economic development director) David Meeks, the executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition and whoever else wants to attend and say, 'What can we do to attract business to Hilliard?'" Lessells said.
Council members expressed concern about the perception of Lessells being both a Destination Hilliard trustee and a councilman. They also were concerned about him leaving Destination Hilliard, where they believe he is valuable, to be a councilman. Lessells said he felt the positions were complementary, but he would be willing to withdraw from Destination Hilliard if needed.
Uttley, a former council president who has lived in Hilliard 54 years and owns the Columbus Appraisal Co., was interviewed last. He said that he was now a member of the Hilliard Arts Council and the Hilliard Community Foundation, and cited his experience on various city commissions and council committees.
"I would be willing to serve anywhere," Uttley said.
Iosue asked Uttley to respond to a comment he read online that suggested "new blood" was needed on council.
"While new blood is vital," Uttley said, "you need those who are experienced, especially in difficult times, to move the community forward with a steady hand."
Norwich Township Trustee Chuck Buck was in attendance and after offering his observations on the candidates, told council, "I will be pleased with whatever you do."