ONTARIO ─ Ontario City Council welcomed its newest member last week.
Chad Wilford was sworn in as an at-large councilman on June 2. He was appointed by the Republican Party to fill the position left by former council member Larry Collins, who resigned in April.
Wilford, 37, said he was a little nervous at the first council meeting because of not knowing what to expect and what the residents would say during public commentary. But he was excited to be part of the process and see how it works.
Growing up in Shelby, Wilford moved to Ontario with his wife, Ashley, and their son, Luke, more than four years ago, mostly for the educational opportunities. He said he wanted to be more involved in the community.
Former Ontario councilman Mark Weidemyre, a good friend of Wilford, mentioned serving on the council. Wilford said he discussed it with his wife for about a year and talked to Eddie Gallo, the council president, and Mayor Randy Hutchinson before making the decision.
Wilford said he and Ashley both want to be a part of the community and see it continue to improve.
“I don't want to be one of those neighbors that sit on the sidelines and talk about it (community issues), but don't do anything about it,” he said.
His fellow council members and the administration were all nice and very welcoming, Wilford said. While the council has already got some great ideas to work with, the newest member is looking forward to bringing something different to the table.
Wilford is a technical sales representative for Buckeye Educational Systems. He said he works with all the career centers in Ohio to implement curriculums, teacher training and professional development of any manufacturing.
Ontario consistently tries to attract businesses to the area, especially with the revitalization at the former General Motors site. Wilford said a project like that won’t be overwhelming for him because he works with different industry groups at his full-time job.
As a councilman, Wilford said his short-term goal is to learn the system and support the city. He also wanted to help Ontario thrive and continue to grow in a positive direction.
“I want Ontario to be a city … 20 years from now, another family like mine looks at and goes ‘That's where I want to raise my family at.’ So, that's the goal.” Wilford said.
Wilford’s current term will expire at the end of this year. The councilman will be running as a write-in candidate in the November election. He said he has planned on campaigning in the summer and received great advice from the community.
The two other at-large positions at the council are also up for election this year. Councilman Dave Rehfeldt is on the November ballot, while councilman Ken Earhart is not seeking another term.
Local real estate agent Troy Sapp turned in a petition and is running for the position.
The mayor, law director and auditor are running unopposed on the November ballot for now. No one has taken out a petition for the city treasurer's position.