Pickerington City Council's newest member, Jaclyn Rohaly, said she has experience in assisting people of diverse backgrounds and hopes to help promote the community's standings in economic development and public safety.
Rohaly is a first-generation American whose family hails from Cuba. She was born in New Jersey and moved to Columbus in September 2001, when her husband, Ben, took a job with the Columbus Division of Police.
The family moved to Pickerington in March 2002, and the experiences they have had here moved Rohaly to seek a more active role in the community, she said. She sought appointments to fill council vacancies in summer 2017 and spring 2018.
Although she wasn't chosen on those two occasions, she made an impression on several council members and Mayor Lee Gray.
The mayor appointed Rohaly on Feb. 26 to fill a council seat vacated by Jeff Fix, who became a Fairfield County commissioner at the beginning of the year after being elected in November.
"Jaclyn has a passion to serve her community," Gray said. "Her energy and her insight will be a valuable addition to City Council.
"She had interviewed twice before," he said. "She always did really well in the interviews and I got the feeling some of the members of council thought she'd be a good fit, as well."
Rohaly, 40, is an international- and immigration-resources manager at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Her duties include helping college students and others seeking jobs at the hospital to secure work visas.
Additionally, she assists families from other countries obtain visas when their children cannot get the medical care they need in their homelands and seek those services at Nationwide Children's.
Rohaly also has experience in politics, helping with door-to-door and other grassroots for local campaigns, and she was the Ohio Republican Party's Hispanic outreach coordinator for President George W. Bush's successful re-election bid in 2004.
"I'm ready to give back to the community," Rohaly said. "Pickerington has been really good to my family and myself. We've made a home here and I love it."
In addition to her work and politics, Rohaly is a volunteer cheerleading coach for her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, and has been involved in the Pickerington Youth Athletic Association, where her 9-year-old son, Giovanni, has played baseball and lacrosse.
Her family belongs to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Catholic Church.
She will serve in the seat formerly held by Fix through the end of the year but said she's planning to run to retain the seat in November. The term for her seat expires Dec. 31, 2021. Because she was appointed, she would have to be elected to fulfill the remaining two years. The deadline for candidates to file for the Nov. 5 general election is 4 p.m. Aug. 7.
"That's something I would like to pursue," Rohaly said. "I'm hoping the citizens of Pickerington would elect meto retain the seat."
In the interim, Rohaly said, she plans to immerse herself in council's upcoming agendas and hopes to learn on the fly.
She said she's not coming in to the job with grand visions for change, but she hopes to help contribute to building Pickerington's brand and status in central Ohio. In particular, she wants to help promote the city's economic development potential to further bolster the local tax base and provide more job opportunities to the community.
"I think we could definitely be a big competitor with the other big suburbs in the area," she said.
"I want to be part of the movement in showing how great our growth is going and our job force development."
As the wife of a police sergeant, Rohaly also said she's "100 percent behind" the community's first-responders.
"I think we need to continue to empower them to do their jobs and keep our community safe," she said.