Pickerington voters this month reelected a City Council member and selected two new leaders who will take office in January.

Crystal Hicks was reelected to her council seat Nov. 5, and former councilman Brian Wisniewski and newcomer Nick Derksen also were victorious in a five-way race for three seats.

According to final, unofficial results from the Fairfield County Board of Elections, Wisniewski received the most votes with 1,549 (24.47%), followed by Hicks with 1,468 (23.19%) and Derksen with 1,237 (19.54%).

The three defeated Kevin Kemper, who received 1,125 (17.77%) votes, and William Reed, who received 951 (15.02%), according to unofficial results.

Those votes are expected to be certified sometime after Nov. 15.

All three winners have ties to segments of the city's government. Hicks is an incumbent, Wisniewski served on council from 2004 to 2012 and Derksen is a member of the city's tax appeals board.

Wisniewski and Derksen will take seats held by Mike Sabatino and Jerry Dailey, both of whom chose not to run for reelection.

"To be selected by city residents to represent them on City Council with everyone who was available to choose from is very humbling and I consider it an honor and a privilege," Wisniewski said. "I look forward to serving with Nick and Crystal, as well as the rest of City Council and the mayor."

Wisniewski said his top priority going forward will be to make Pickerington "more business-friendly."

"I will immediately be reviewing contracts the city uses for third-party vendors in areas such as plan reviews," he said. "Businesses expanding or coming into the city should not to be subject to additional expenses and delays due to poorly written plan reviews by outside contractors."

Wisniewski added he will work with the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce to be "an advocate for our local businesses and for those wishing to locate in our city."

He rated infrastructure as "a long-term issue that needs a lot of attention now so we can plan accordingly for the future."

"Our traffic situation is not going to be resolved overnight, but we do need to make a plan," Wisniewski said. "I do want to immediately look into sidewalks for some of the roads where our children walk to school.

"We don't need to create over-engineered projects for sidewalks with a $8 million curb and gutter program for a couple miles of road.

"We need to look into newer technologies available such as rubber or composite sidewalks, even cantilever-type if needed, so we don't impact current drainage but still create more walkable and safer areas for our residents and especially our children."

Hicks, who was elected to a seat she was appointed to by Mayor Lee Gray in June 2018, said she's "excited and humbled to be elected to retain" her seat.

"I appreciate all of the support I received in the community," she said. "I look forward to serving and working with my colleagues to make the best decisions on important issues.

"I think the council is strong and has a great group of individuals that will work well together."

In 2020, Hicks said, she'll work with Pickerington police and Violet Township fire officials to improve safety in the city.

She said she also plans to work with City Manager Greg Butcher, the city's Planning and Zoning Department and service director Ed Drobina "on issues such as improving our infrastructure and improving areas of concern with stormwater runoff."

"I plan on looking for ways to improve services in Pickerington within our Parks and Recreation," Hicks said. "Citizens have expressed that they would like some equipment added in the future for special needs children and additional parks.

"Some of these things I have already started discussing with council."

Hicks said she received a lot of input from residents during her door-to-door campaign walks and council members now must "engage, listen and evaluate reality and be upfront and honest with the possibility of those changes."

"I believe most people want honesty," she said. "They deserve that. My goal is to hear concerns and address them in a timely manner."

As for Derksen, he said he is looking forward to his first foray into public office.

"I'm extremely humbled," he said. "I have a real big heart for public service and I'm excited to get to work."

Derksen said he expects to take part in issues and debates fellow council members will raise, but he also plans to remain in touch with residents by continuing to go door-to-door in neighborhoods to talk directly with constituents.

"I hope to go out maybe once a month," he said.

Derksen said he intends to work toward fiscal responsibility and will push for the city to publish its financial activity online through the Ohio Treasurer's Open Checkbook program.

Launched in 2014, ohiocheckbook.com purports to increase government transparency by allowing users to search and view participating municipalities' and public agencies' expenditures.

Additionally, Derksen plans to lobby for things such as expansion of sidewalks and street and drainage improvements for neighborhoods that haven't seen upgrades in some time.

"The issues vary and I enjoy hearing about all of the issues," he said. "I think a lot of my first year will be listening and observing.

"One thing that struck me during my campaign and going door-to-door was drainage, and one thing I'd like to look at is putting money in the budget to fix neighborhoods that need help."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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