COLUMBUS — Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst was elected president of the Mayors Association of Ohio at the quarterly meeting of the group’s executive committee. The meeting, originally scheduled to be part of the association’s annual meeting which was postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, was held in Columbus. Barhorst had previously served as first vice president of the organization.
Other officers elected include Batavia Mayor John Thebout, who was elected first vice president. Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler, who was elected second vice president, St. Paris Mayor Brenda Cook who was elected secretary. At Barhorst’s recommendation, the treasurer’s position was left vacant until the next meeting so that those wishing to fill the position will have the opportunity to express interest.
The officers of the association rotate between cities and villages. Terms are normally for a 12-month period, although the pandemic has altered some previous terms. Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel, who was scheduled to serve July 2019 through June 2020, actually served as president for a year and a half; Glenwillow Mayor Mark Cegelka assumed office in January 2021, and only served for six months.
“Because of the uncertainty surrounding the scheduling of in-person meetings because of the pandemic, this year’s annual meeting is being moved to coincide with the annual meeting of the Ohio Municipal League,” Barhorst said. “The dates for the annual OML conference have been set for Oct. 6-8. The conference will again be held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus.
“Although his term has been short, Glenwillow Mayor Mark Cegelka has done an outstanding job,” Barhorst said. “Mayors from across Ohio have been meeting virtually biweekly to discuss matters of mutual concern. He has moderated nearly every one of those calls.
“Those virtual weekly calls have provided the opportunity for mayors to exchange information and best practices with each other,” Barhorst said. “The meetings have been quite helpful, especially as we share information regarding the guidelines accompanying the federal dollars we will be receiving through the American Rescue Plan.
“More than 10 million of Ohio’s 11.7 million people live in one of Ohio’s 937 municipalities,” Barhorst said. “Cities and villages are the engines of Ohio’s economy, with more than 80% of all business and industry located within municipalities.”
The purpose of the Mayors Association of Ohio is the improvement of municipal government and the promotion of the general welfare of Ohio’s cities and villages. This is accomplished by cooperating with The Ohio Municipal League in the maintenance of a central bureau of information and research for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information concerning municipal government; the fostering of conferences, meetings, and short courses for the discussion and study of municipal problems and the techniques involved in their solution; and, providing an opportunity for mayors to meet as a separate group for the discussion of the special problems, responsibilities and experiences as heads of cities and villages of the state.
In addition, the Mayors Association of Ohio publishes and issues bulletins and reports on municipal government; encourages a harmony of action among the municipalities of Ohio and other agencies of government in all matters which affect the citizens of Ohio; and, creates an awareness at all levels of government of the problems of municipal government in Ohio by presenting the facts and experiences upon which to formulate sound municipal policies.