Westerville News & Public Opinion

Four council incumbents will look to keep seats

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The four Westerville City Council members whose terms expire at the end of this year all will be on the ballot this fall seeking additional four-year terms.

Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi, Councilwoman Jenifer French, Council Chairman Mike Heyeck and Councilman Larry Jenkins have announced they will run to keep their seats in November.

Cocuzzi is completing her second four-year term on council and is in her fourth year as mayor.

"I am having fun on council. I do enjoy it. It's an honor to represent everyone," Cocuzzi said. "It gives me an opportunity to represent the city that I love."

Cocuzzi said she wants to remain on council to continue the city's focus on economic development and to ensure the stability of the city's income-tax base.

"We're on the right track, and we'd like to see that continue," Cocuzzi said. "There's always so much to do. There's new adventures, new projects to help make Westerville a better place to live."

Cocuzzi has lived in Westerville since 1982.

The November election will be French's first.

She was appointed to council in January 2011 to fill the seat vacated by state Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) when Gonzales won election to the 19th District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.

"I have enjoyed my time on council immensely," said French, an attorney. "I've enjoyed helping people in the community. I've enjoyed watching Westerville grow, and I've enjoyed the planning process for the future, and I just want to be part of that process moving forward."

In her time on council, French said the city has worked hard on economic development, on creating a joint economic development zone with Blendon Township and on planning.

She said she wants to be part of the planning that is in progress for the future of Uptown Westerville and the parks system.

French grew up in Westerville and is a graduate of Westerville North High School. She returned to Westerville with her husband in 2006, after she completed law school in California.

Heyeck is in his 20th year on Westerville City Council. He retired last week from AEP after serving 37 years with the company and said his retirement will give him even more time to focus on council and on serving the city.

"It's almost 30 years that I've been involved. Now I just have much more time and opportunity to spend serving the public," Heyeck said.

With a long-term balanced financial plan and an uptick in economic development, the city is on the right track, Heyeck said, and he wants to help the city continue on that path.

"The city is just at a great point from a budget perspective, from a finance perspective, and it's just a great op for the citizens of Westerville to volunteer for the city," Heyeck said. "I've enjoyed public service, and I'm still enjoying public service, and that is really No. 1."

Heyeck has lived in Westerville since 1980.

Jenkins is ending his first four-year term on council.

"I think things are pretty good in Westerville. We have a lot of things going on in Westerville. I feel like we're headed in a good direction, but there's still a lot to do," Jenkins said. "We're just in the process of just having some things start to happen. It's an exciting time to be on council."

Jenkins said he hopes to retain his seat on council so he can continue to work on important projects such as the South State Street improvements, the planned improvements to Cleveland Avenue near Schrock Road and the redevelopment of Westerville's older commercial areas.

Jenkins, who owns his own human-resources consulting business, grew up in Gahanna and moved back to central Ohio in 1995 after graduating from Purdue University. He's lived in Westerville since 1997.

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