Both Steve Robinette and Jeff Davis are planning to stay involved in public roles locally despite the end of their terms on Grove City Council.

CORRECTION: The print and previous online version of this story included incorrect information in a quote attributed to Steve Robinette. The quote incorrectly stated he had served in military.

Both Steve Robinette and Jeff Davis are planning to stay involved in public roles locally despite the end of their terms on Grove City Council.

Robinette is a candidate in the March 17 primary election for the Grove City Ward 4 seat on the Franklin County Republican Central Committee. Ward 4 Councilman Roby Schottke also is a candidate for the seat.

Davis will serve as chairman for the campaign committee for the renewal of the Southwest Public Libraries' 1-mill operating levy, which also will be on the March 17 ballot. Davis served as chairman of the campaign committee when voters approved the current 10-year levy in 2010.

That experience, along with an appointment to serve on the city's board of zoning appeals, led Davis to run for City Council in 2011.

"Those two things gave me a desire to do more to serve my community," Davis said. "It's a cliche to say, but I do think people run for local office because they feel a need to give back to their community. That's the way it was for me.

"I'm a believer that if you really want your community to move forward, you've got to be willing to do your part," he said.

Davis served two terms as Ward 2 council representative but chose not to run for a third term in 2019.

The transformation of the city's Town Center has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his tenure on council, he said.

"When you think back to eight years ago, the Town Center was really different then," Davis said. "People talked about it being a jewel, but it was kind of a hidden jewel. People knew it could be special and that was a goal we set."

Projects like the construction of the new Grove City Library and the Broadway Station apartments, as well as a renewed emphasis on retail and restaurants, have helped add vibrancy to the downtown, he said.

People who live outside Grove City are more aware now of what the Town Center has to offer, Davis said.

"I spend a lot of time in downtown Columbus and people say to me all the time, 'hey, Grove City is really on the move,'" said Davis, who serves as director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

"We've seen our Town Center really take off, and I'm proud of the very small part I've played in that," he said.

Davis said he is "a pro-development person. Not everybody is as happy about the increased development we've seen in Grove City.

"Some of our growth has been inevitable, in part because of steps we've taken and in some cases because of the growth in Franklin County," Davis said. "The development is bringing more traffic and other issues, but I think we've been able to maintain the small-town feel of Grove City, despite the growth. That's important."

Another area of satisfaction is the increased transparency that has been achieved on council and in city government over the past eight years, he said.

"We put our transactions and financial information online now and all our council meetings can be viewed online either live or on tape so you can watch them if you have an interest," Davis said. "We've moved issues dealing with lands up to the top of the agenda rather than at the end, so you don't have to sit through an entire meeting to get to a development or zoning issue.

"Those are three big things we've done to help make local government more transparent for our residents," he said.

Robinette said greater transparency was also one of the goals he wanted to work toward during his time on council.

"Jeff and I sponsored a particular piece of legislation to require the bids for our professional services (costing at least $100,000 annually) to be bid out every four years," he said.

Local officials owe it to their constituents to be as transparent as possible, Robinette said.

Robinette was named to fill the vacant at-large seat in 2017 and ran for election to the seat in 2017. He served the past two years as council president. Instead of running again for council, Robinette ran against Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage in the November 2019 election for mayor but lost.

"One of the things I wanted to do as council president was open up the process of what council does and how it works," he said. "At the beginning of last year, we set about having a more informal council meeting at the beginning of the year where we could work with the administration to do some goal setting for the year.

"That was a really helpful process, and two initiatives that came out of that -- the sustainability committee and our financial resource task force -- are still out working to move Grove City forward," Robinette said.

The financial resource task force is reviewing how the city spends its money and additional funding resources that could be available, he said. The sustainability committee will recommend ways the city can improve its practices to be more environmentally friendly.

Before serving on council, Robinette worked 31 years in the Grove City Division of Police, including four years as chief, before retiring in 2015.

Between his retirement as chief and his appointment to city council, Robinette served as chairman of the city's charter-review task force.

"I think my interest in public service really began and was inspired being a Boy Scout as a kid," he said. "I guess it instilled in me a desire and a duty to serve, and that led me to go into law enforcement. Working on the charter review and serving on council is part of that overall desire to serve my community."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman