Westerville, Ohio is a neighborhood/suburb that is part of the greater Columbus area and has its own local government to help take care of civic matters that relate directly to their neighborhood. While the names can change from one election year to the next, it’s important for local residents to understand how the local government is set up and how it works in order to fully appreciate how they can make a difference and how important the local elections are.
Understanding The Westerville Governmental Setup
The City of Westerville works primarily with a Council-Manager governing setup. The city council as a group votes on various amendments or proposals and takes care of a wide variety of city needs and policies while the day to day issues that are going to come up with the city are handled by the council member who is the City Manager.
The city uses a 7 member city council, the odd number ensuring that there will always be a definitive vote in one direction or another on any proposal or issue that comes up. While this can occasionally lead to a contentious debate, it also makes sure that progress and policies move forward in a definitive fashion: there’s no question where the city council stands once something has been voted upon and decided.
Multiple Positions, Different Responsibilities
The city council consists of elected members from different parts of Westerville, and among the official positions that are part of the council are mayor, vice mayor, and chair. In addition to the Westerville City Council, there are a wide variety of boards that oversee different parts of the town and are often manned by volunteers. These boards interact with the city council to help inform them on topics of importance and give a better sense of what each part of the community needs as a whole.
In some cases, those boards have one or more members of the council attending to hear the points of view directly and in other cases, these boards meet completely independent of any council members. Each position has a different amount of authority and independence, as well as a different amount of responsibility.
Current Westerville Members
While the names and positions can change due to resignations, new elections, and a variety of other factors, as of the writing of this article this is the current Westerville City Council along with any other important positions they hold within (up to date information can be found on the official Westerville government website.
City Council Chair: Mike Heyeck
City Council Vice Chair: Diane Fosselman
Westerville Mayor: Craig Treneff
Westerville Vice Mayor: Kathy Cocuzzi
Council Member: Alex Heckman
Council Member: Tim Davey
Council Member: Valerie Cumming
Currently, those are the seven public servants who represent the city of Westerville in local government. As stated earlier, this can be very fluid since that’s how elections and democracy works.
Westerville Home Rule Charter
The Home Rule Charter is a binding resolution that declares the city’s right to govern local matters over state traditions. Any specific ordinances or regulations the local council passes are used as the working law with the state rules only applying to matters that have not been directly addressed by local government. This charter has been in place for many decades at this point.
Every 10 years a board is convened according to city law to look at the charter, look at the current system of government, and to determine what types of changes need to be made or considered. Sometimes minor changes are made, sometimes major ones are debated, and sometimes nothing changes at all.
Local Westerville Police and Fire
The Westerville Police Department has many responsibilities, but its primary focus is to keep the city safe from criminal activity and protect its citizens. The force has a total of 43 members including 34 officers and 9 managing staff. The department plays a role in many community events to interact with those living in Westerville, to form a bond and proactive relationships with the citizens.
Sadly in February of 2018, a shooting took two Westerville officers lives who had been on the force a combined 47 years. The community rallied together with the “Westerville Strong” hashtag and thousands of blue ribbons we put on trees and homeowners replaced their exterior lights with blue lights, in support of the police department.
Westerville has three fire stations, all with multiple engines that reside to help protect the people. The average time for a station to respond to a home or Westerville business fire emergency is 4 minutes. The Fire Stations are located at:
Fire Station 111: 400 W Main St, Westerville, OH 43081
Fire Station 112: 727 E Schrock Rd, Westerville, OH 43081
Fire Station 113: 355 N Spring Rd, Westerville, OH 43082
In addition, the Minerva Park Fire Department and the Blendon Township departments are nearby and can help service the Westerville area in time of need, due to their close proximity.