ONTARIO — After 15 years on the Ontario City Council, Mark Weidemyre will retire at this end of this year.
Weidemyre announced his retirement at a city council meeting this past Wednesday.
"I’d like to take this time to tell you how long I’ve enjoyed working with all of you," he said.
Weidemyre, who ran unopposed for a term beginning next year, stated he is stepping down due to a family decision to move out of state. The decision was a difficult and bittersweet one.
"It really does get in your blood. I look forward to every meeting and I’ll miss it," said Weidemyre. "The community has been very good to me."
Weidemyre will finish out his term, which ends Dec. 31, but a new council member will be appointed to serve the term he was recently elected to, which begins Jan. 1.
Since Weidemyre was elected as a Republican, the central committee of the Richland County Republican Party is in charge of appointing his replacement, said Marilyn John, county commissioner and chair of the Richland County Republican Party's executive committee.
"What has happened in the past is the party has advertised the position and a screening committee will be put together," John said.
Bob Entenmann, chair of the central committee, confirmed that the central committee members from the city of Ontario will make the appointment. The committee includes Shane Zimmerman, Neil Chitwood and Zoi Romanchuk.
Per the Ohio Revised Code, a new council member must be appointed no earlier than five days and no later than forty five days after a vacancy occurs.
Since Weidemyre was to begin a new term in January, the appointee will serve out all four years and the seat will be up for election in November 2023.
Although he’s sad to leave city governance behind, Weidemyre said he’s satisfied with the job he’s done.
"It just feels good to be able to make decisions that don't benefit yourself, but benefit the community as a whole. I can honestly say I don't regret any of the votes I've ever taken," he said. "Everything that I've done, I’ve done because it's what I believed in. That’s all you can do."
Weidemyre said that the camaraderie among the council members has made the experience a positive one.
"Sometimes people don't agree. I’ve voted against my colleagues, but once we walk out that door, we're friends," he said. "I think we've got a very civil counsel here and I think there needs to be more civility in politics."
Before the meeting ended, council surprised Weidemyre by introducing and passing a resolution of appreciation. Fourth ward council member Dan Zeiter got choked up as he read the resolution aloud.
"It caught me off-guard,” Weidemyre admitted. “It almost choked me up, listening to him to read it. I really do appreciate it. I'll cherish it. I'll frame it and it’ll be hanging up in my office in Florida.”
Ontario Mayor Randy Hutchinson also praised Weidemyre for his dedication to the city’s economic development.
“He’s always had the best interests for the city,” said Hutchinson. “He worked on FedEx, Avita and other places coming here. He’s always out there digging and looking for businesses to come here.”
“I think he’s done an outstanding job in Ontario seeking new businesses," echoed Entenmann. "We’re going to miss him.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that a city council replacement must be made between five and fifteen days after a vacancy occurs. We apologize for the error.