Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik is moving on. That’s not surprising, considering the city’s growth and other successes under Mihalik, who is just starting the final year of her second four-year term.
On Thursday, Gov.-elect Mike DeWine tabbed Mihalik as director of the Development Services Agency, which works to create jobs and build communities while ensuring accountability and transparency of taxpayer money and exceptional customer service.
We congratulate Mihalik and wish her well in her new position, one she seems particularly geared for due to her experiences in local government. She has grown dramatically as a leader since being elected in November 2011, and helped position Findlay as one of the best small cities in the nation.
Mihalik’s departure will shake up Findlay’s government. This year, all council seats and administrative posts will be on the ballot. When Mihalik heads to Columbus, Council President Ron Monday will serve as acting mayor until the Hancock County Republican Party names a replacement. Potential candidates for mayor have until Feb. 6 to file to run for the primary.
Mihalik will leave Findlay government finances better than she found them. When she took office in January 2012, the city budget was extremely tight. Today, there’s an adequate carryover balance.
The city has done well attracting new businesses and keeping existing ones. Hancock County’s jobless rate is among the lowest in the state. Income tax collections have risen.
Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s commitment to stay in Findlay after the 2007 flood led to development of a new office building and Hancock Hotel. Downtown Findlay has undergone a renaissance as well with a streetscape project and the renovation of the old Central Auditorium.
Flood-control efforts have progressed more slowly than many would like, but have continued and have been supported by the Mihalik administration, with the first major project now underway just west of downtown.
No question, Mihalik’s strong mayoral leadership style has ruffled some feathers along the way. There have been occasional public outbursts between Mihalik and Auditor Jim Staschiak and 5th Ward Councilwoman Holly Frische.
Had Mihalik stayed and run for re-election, an interesting Republican primary race for mayor could have pitted the incumbent vs. Frische. That may have been intense.
Mihalik didn’t speak publicly about her higher political ambitions, but her stock has been rising the past several years. Her associations with the Ohio Mayors Alliance and U.S. Conference of Mayors allowed her to travel to Japan, Washington, D.C., and other places in the United States.
The city’s successes, especially during her second term, helped make her visible on the state level. It paid off Thursday: Mihalik is the first official from northwest Ohio picked for DeWine’s cabinet.
It seemed only a matter of when, not if, Mihalik would move on.
She has left her mark on Findlay, serving as its first female mayor, and helping market the city far and wide through her connections. There will be a learning curve moving from municipal to state government, but we believe Mihalik is a good fit for the DeWine administration. Good luck, mayor!