Augsburger named Bluffton mayor

By BRIAN LESTER
STAFF WRITER

BLUFFTON — Judy Augsburger said she had aspirations of one day being the mayor of Bluffton.
She didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

Less than five months after being sworn in as only the third female member of the Bluffton Council ever, Augsburger was named the mayor of the village at Monday night’s council meeting.

Augsburger took over the position after Dennis Gallant made his resignation official on Monday night. Gallant announced last month that he would be stepping down to take a job in Sandusky. Gallant has served as the mayor since last March when Eric Fulcomer stepped down for another job.

Augsburger, who was elected to council last November, sworn in back in January and named council president last week when Mitch Kingsley stepped down, will serve out the remainder of Gallant’s term, which expires in 2015.

“I’m very excited,” Augsburger said. “Being the mayor was something I had thought of doing at some point, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen this quickly.”

While the transition happened fast, she doesn’t expect her new job to be overwhelming.

“I have great support from everyone on council,” Augsburger said. “They are there to help me in any way if I need it. It’s a good feeling to know that I have that support.”

Gallant thanked everyone for having the opportunity to serve as the mayor and said he can walk away knowing the village is in good shape.

“It’s been an honor to be a councilman and be the mayor as well. I’ve enjoyed my time being able to represent the village and I feel good knowing the village is in good hands.”

Kingsley was in line to become mayor but gave up his position as council president two weeks ago. His decision was based on looming changes to the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System. Currently, only 10 years of service is required for eligibility. Starting in 2015, the requirement goes up to 20 years.

Kingsley has 13 years of service and said he will remain on council until later this year. He made a motion Monday to appoint Dave Steiner to fill Augsburger’s vacant seat on council.

Steiner is a former council member and council president who attempted to run for re-election last fall, but his candidacy was rejected because of a technicality with his petitions.

Councilman Roger Warren objected to the motion, telling council that it should take time and allow others to have the opportunity to take the job.

“I believe there are a lot of qualified people out there, and I know of several people who have expressed interest,” Warren said. “I don’t think it’s necessary that we make a decision (tonight).”

Despite Warren’s objection, the motion was passed by a 3-2 vote. Kingsley also asked council to make Steiner the council president. That motion was passed by a 4-1 vote.

Separately, the town hall’s fire suppression system and monitoring system are nearly back to being fully operational. Only the sprinkler head that broke needs to be replaced, and that part has already been ordered.

The town hall was damaged last month when a sprinkler head broke on the third floor of the building.

Nearly 2,000 gallons of water poured into the building before the water was shut off by the fire department.

Village administrator James Mehaffie did not have an estimate on the total damages.

Other work still needs to be done to the hall, including replacing the floor in the community room, but Mehaffie said the village is still seeking estimates for the job.

Separately, Hannah Korte and Troy Hertzog were sworn in as part-time police officers for the village on Monday.

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