As the prospect rises that Pickerington City Council could lose a longtime member to a county office in January, the city's mayor said he's still looking for the right fit to fill a current council vacancy.
On May 8, Pickerington City Councilman Jeff Fix defeated former Pickerington school board member Lisa Reade in the Republican primary for Fairfield County commissioner by an unofficial vote of 7,658 votes (58 percent) to 5,626 votes (42 percent).
That means Fix, a 13-year council member, will square off in November against Democrat Leah Hackleman-Good for the countywide seat.
If Fix wins, his colleagues on City Council will have time to choose his replacement.
They had a similar opportunity to fill outgoing Councilwoman Melissa Wilde's seat this year after she was elected a Violet Township trustee in November. Wilde left office Jan. 1 and 60 days passed and no appointment was made.
That left her replacement in the hands of Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray, who said he still is mulling the appointment.
"I haven't filled (Wilde's) position yet," Gray said. "I'm definitely considering a few options."
Gray said he has not received any official applications and he has not interviewed anyone for the post.
Rather, he's been informally talking to people who have expressed interest in serving on council, and he's touched base with a few people he thinks are good candidates.
He declined to share those people's names, noting no formal actions or discussions have taken place.
"It's an ongoing process," Gray said. "We have had a few people reach out, and I have had council members make some suggestions. It's one of those thing where you want to have the right fit. I'm kind of waiting on that, but I think we're getting closer."
Gray said council's current six-member contingent, with one vacant seat, "isn't affecting anything" in terms of accomplishing city business.
He said he does expect to make an appointment before January, which is when Fix would leave office if he wins the November general election for county commissioner.
"Ultimately, my goal is to find the right fit and the best candidate for the city of Pickerington," Gray said. "I don't think you put arbitrary time lines on that. We haven't had any issues with not having enough people to vote on issues. From my perspective, you want to give it time, and sometimes things come about because you gave it time."