Being involved in the government of a small village such as Marble Cliff helps keep the elected officials in touch with the people they serve, says Mayor Kent Studebaker.
"From a personal perspective, what I enjoyed most about public service is working with people," he said.
"It was getting to know the residents, talking to the business and property owners, and the positive interaction with our neighboring municipalities -- Mayor Ray DeGraw and others in Grandview -- and establishing a better relationship with Upper Arlington," Studebaker said.
Studebaker will step down as Marble Cliff's mayor Dec. 31 after serving nearly a quarter-century in the village's government. Studebaker served 14 years on Village Council and was council president in November 2009 when he stepped up to fill the mayor's position after Rich Murray resigned to accept a job with the state of Ohio.
Studebaker was elected mayor in 2011 and reelected in 2015 before deciding not to run for a third full term.
"The philosophy I've tried to follow, if there is one, is that we are not here to impose into people's lives," he said. "We are here to address the collective needs of the community and be responsive to the needs of developers as well as the people who live here."
It's a balancing act for village officials, Studebaker said, making sure that Marble Cliff, which relies heavily on income-tax revenue, maintains a strong revenue stream while keeping up the village's character, which is what helps draw residents and businesses to Marble Cliff.
Serving on council and as mayor "has been a really positive experience," he said.
"The smallness of the village gives you a great opportunity to get to know the residents you are serving and the issues range from the seemingly small to the obviously significant," Studebaker said. "No matter what the issue is, whether it's trimming a tree or redeveloping an important parcel of land, it's important to someone in the village.
"The Village Council serves as a committee of the whole, so we don't hand an issue off to someone else," he said. "The six people on council and the mayor are involved in each issue from beginning to resolution. The process allows us to take a careful and deliberate approach to an issue.
"And our residents have the chance to be actively involved and give their feedback throughout the process," Studebaker said. "In a small village, residents can almost be partners with their elected officials."
One of the tasks Marble Cliff accomplished during his tenure as mayor may seem inconsequential, but it was important, Studebaker said.
The strategic planning process conducted in 2015 identified "what seemed to be some fairly simple actions (standardizing street signs and street lights) to give the village more of a presence for the public. It really helped to create a more positive and prominent image of the village," he said.
"We've always been proactive in the less sexy infrastructure issues, creating five-year plans to address the functions of the village that have to work for residents, like streets, sidewalks, sewers, electrical and water," Studebaker said. "They're the things that are easy to take for granted, but it they don't work, we really have a problem.
"I'm proud of that proactive approach," he said. "It's the best way to keep the village moving forward without problems."
Marble Cliff has an "intriguing" housing stock with notable homes ranging from the late 19th to the 21st century, Studebaker said.
"Even though we are a landlocked community, I'm pleased that we have had the foresight in the redevelopment of some of our estate properties to make sure the manor homes that are the center of the properties were retained," he said.
The manor homes were preserved for the No. 10 Arlington and Prescott Place developments and, most recently, the redevelopment of the property at 2015 W. Fifth Ave., where the Frank Packard-designed mansion was saved from demolition.
"Overall, economic development has been a positive area for us," Studebaker said. "We went through a tough time like everyone else during the recession, but we've also been able to be in a position to be a little more particular of how a property is developed."
As mayor, Studebaker said, he has been blessed to work with dedicated Village Council members; a support staff that has included fiscal officer Cindy McKay, the late Bill Johannes and Judith Ciccone as administrative assistants; and contracted village solicitors and engineers, including Yazan Ashrawi and Josh Ford.
"It's been a privilege to work with them on the village's behalf," Studebaker said.
McKay said the feeling is mutual.
"Kent has been a pleasure to work with," she said.
"He's an encourager," McKay said. "He has encouraged staff to take up projects that improve how we serve the residents in the village, encouraged developers to locate in Marble Cliff and helped encourage and worked with council to improve Marble Cliff."
Through his time on council and as mayor, Studebaker provided "calm leadership," she said.
Although he is leaving office, Studebaker is not bidding farewell to Marble Cliff.
He and his wife, Susan, sold their house on Roxbury Road earlier this year and moved into a unit at Prescott Place.
"We're like a lot of people who are downsizing but wanted to stay in the village," Studebaker said.
Studebaker also has been appointed to serve as president of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society's board of trustees.
Village Council president Matthew Cincione, who ran unopposed in the mayor's race in November, will be sworn in next month.