Hilliard Northwest News

Schonhardt: Outgoing councilmen made city a 'better place'

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Two city officials will have a little more time to pursue their interests in 2014.

Barring an emergency session before the end of the year, City Council President Brett Sciotto and Councilman Jim Ashenhurst attended their last meeting Dec. 16.

Mayor Don Schonhardt and council Vice President Kelly McGivern presented both men with a Hilliard flag and other tokens for their service to the community.

Schonhardt thanked both men.

"Hilliard is a better place because of you," he said.

Sciotto said earlier this year he did not seek re-election in order to allow others a chance to serve and so he could devote more time to his business. Ashenhurst said he chose not to run to devote more time to his family.

* Sciotto, 41, has served the past six years as president of City Council. He was elected in 2005, and split his first term serving as vice president and president.

Sciotto arrived in Hilliard in 2000 and served as an aide to City Council for 16 months before founding American Strategies, which focused on political campaigns.

He spun off that company and in 2008 established Governing Dymanic, which was intended to help established office-holders be effective communicators and leaders, he said.

Earlier this year, he reunited those companies and founded Aimpoint Research, of which he is president and CEO.

"I have had the opportunity to work with cities all across America, and I can confidently say that the difference between the successful ones and the unsuccessful ones comes down to three things: leadership, vision and collaboration," Sciotto said. "When I came to Hilliard, we were lacking in all three. Today, we are a model for what can be done when you have them."

Sciotto is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he moved often during his childhood and early adult life.

"It's been a privilege to serve with all of you (and) a privilege to represent the citizens of Hilliard on council," he said. "Hilliard truly has become the hometown I never had growing up (and) will always have a special place in my heart."

Sciotto said Aimpoint Research will require extensive travel and will be his focus in 2014.

"Aimpoint Research evolved from (both the former companies)," Sciotto said.

The company will be involved with marketing research and public polling, he said.

Sciotto said he told Schonhardt he would, as his schedule allows, continue his involvement with the city.

"But I am stepping away from the things that require daily involvement," he said.

Sciotto said he would not seek one of the three open seats on the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ashenhurst, 67, was appointed to City Council in 2009 and elected later the same year.

"I planned to serve only one term," Ashenhurst said. "I am an advocate of as many people as possible being involved (in local government) and will encourage others to run for council."

* Ashenhurst, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, described his time on City Council as an "enlightening experience."

"It was a great opportunity and I'm leaving council confident the city is in the hands of a great and capable administration and council," he said.

Ashenhurst said he had travel plans to China and France next year and will spend more time at a second home in Florida.

He and his wife, Deborah, will also have more time to spend with their two granddaughters, ages 4 and 2, he said.

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