Westerville City Council has new leaders in place after its biennial organizational meeting Dec. 1.

With newly elected council members Alex Heckman and Valerie Cumming in place, the seven council members selected Craig Treneff as mayor, Kathy Cocuzzi as vice-mayor, Mike Heyeck as chair and Diane Fosselman as vice chair.

Despite serving on council since 2004 and spending the last four years as council chair, Treneff had never been mayor. He said he "hadn't really considered it in the past" but said he views the job as a "position of outreach to the community."

"I mistakenly thought it might be a more relaxing position than chair," he said with a laugh. "I've been on council for a little over 13 years now, and it just seemed like a good change. Certainly, it was time for me to leave the position of chair. No one should stay in those positions for more than four years."

Treneff, an attorney, had scheduling conflicts with the ribbon-cuttings, weddings and other ceremonial duties of the mayor position. And as the outgoing mayor who said she enjoyed the role, Cocuzzi said she's happy to serve as Treneff's backup.

"If something happens in Craig's schedule, I can help him out in case he can't make something," she said.

While the ceremonial portion of the job is a major component of being mayor, Treneff said he hopes to add a more hands-on approach as well.

"I'll announce some plans in January for some different outreach to residents than the mayor's office has had in the past," he said. "I'm looking to do some structured meetings around the city over my two years. ... Oftentimes we don't get (input) until it's reactive to something. I think it would be good for council and mayor to proactively go out and interact with all segments of the community as much as possible."

Treneff's former duties as chair will fall to Heyeck, who has been a councilman since 1993 and has six years of chair experience.

He said he sees his most important role as "marching forward with council strategy with staff," and said he hopes to provide "orderly" discussion. My cardinal rule for being chair is that my vote is no greater than anybody else's vote and that all voices shall be heard," he said. "So participation is critical. It's very important that all opinions and voices be heard so that we can come to a better outcome."

Heyeck said he wants to "take a look at some projects that have been on the backburner," and hopes to have a more cohesive council than ever.

"We have seven people on council, seven opinions and seven diverse experiences, and that's a good thing," he said. "If we all thought the same, there would only be one of us."

Council's final regular meeting of the year was Dec. 5.

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