Christine Houk was once a regular spectator at Grove City Council meetings, but she never saw herself getting in the game.
"I've always been a political geek in terms of keeping track of everything that was going on," Houk said. "There wasn't any particular issue I was concerned about.
"I was sure that I would never, never run for office," she said. "But at some point, if you care about your community, you have to put your money where your mouth is. I love this community, and I wanted to do my part."
So she ran for and won the Ward 3 seat on council in 2017.
Her next step is serving as council president afterher colleagues chose her for the role at their Jan. 6 meeting. She replaces Steve Robinette, who ran for mayor and did not run for reelection to council's at-large seat.
Serving on council has been what she expected, Houk said.
"I love this job," she said. "I kind of knew what to expect, but it's been even more rewarding than I expected. I thought I could bring something to the table with my background and experience."
Houk is manager/accountant at Houk CPA.
As council president, her main task is "to keep the meetings running," Houk said with a chuckle.
Council works best when the lines of dialogue are open between council members, the administration and the public, Houk said.
"That's how you can build a consensus on issues," she said.
"I'm very fortunate that I have four amazing colleagues on council. Two of them I've worked with the last two years (Councilmen Ted Berry and Roby Schottke) and two are newcomers (Randy Holt and Aaron Schlabach) who are full of promise and eager to start the job."
A goal-setting meeting council and the administration held at the start of last year helped set a plan for the rest of the year, she said.
"I expect we'll have another goal-setting meeting scheduled early this year, and I'd like to continue to track the process we make throughout the year," Houk said.
Two of the initiatives set last year are nearing completion, Houk said.
A 15-member Citizen Financial Review Task Force has been reviewing issues relating to city finances, including operating expenditures; the long-range effect of changes to the city's revenue stream and how that may impact operating and capital improvement budgets; potential options for enhancing city revenue; and short-term and long-term capital needs.
An environmental-sustainability committee is working on recommendations for an energy/environmental-sustainability plan that would be similar to the Grove City 205 strategic plan adopted in 2018.
"They're both in the homestretch, and I would expect that we'll be receiving their final reports in the near future," Houk said. "The recommendations they'll be presenting to council and the administration will provide some potential action steps and help shape policy in those areas."
Another area of focus in 2020 will be planning road and infrastructure improvements to accommodate current and future development hot spots including Beulah Park, she said.
Grove City is seeing a lot of growth and development, Houk said, but "it's important to balance that growth with the charm and character and small-town feel our community has been able to maintain. It's what drew people like me to move here in the first place and what keeps people staying in our city."