In just over a year, Barb Lewis has gone from being a Genoa Township trustee to the president of the Delaware County Commission.
“I am certainly very honored to be chosen as president and we’ll be working on several initiatives,” Lewis told The Gazette recently.
Lewis was elected a commissioner in 2014, and she took office Jan. 1, 2015. At a recent commission meeting, she was nominated to be president by the past president, Gary Merrell.
“You’re going to do a great job,” Merrell said at the time.
“Gary, you’ve done a wonderful job as our president and have given me a lot of guidance as I came aboard,” Lewis said. “We have many goals that we want to work on this year, and there’s so much going on. It’s great for the county. Look no further than across the street (on Sandusky Street). It’s a lot of dirt, but soon a building will rise that will be our new courthouse, all the construction at (routes) 36/37, infrastructure, and working on Sawmill Parkway. County Engineer Chris Bauserman and facilities manager Jon Melvin will be very busy.”
Lewis told The Gazette the “first major challenge for 2016” is to hire some key positions — a new county administrator; director of sanitary engineering and development; and communications manager.
“Another goal is the LeanOhio program that the state has already implemented,” Lewis said. “We are going to begin with our sanitary engineering department to make that more responsive, modern and efficient. We may extend that to other county departments, too. Then another goal would be to find other ways to make our county government even more cost-effective.”
The LeanOhio website states that its mission “is to make government services in Ohio simpler, faster, better and less costly.”
Another goal is continuing the Stepping Up Initiative at the county jail.
“On this initiative, we’re working closely with our sheriff, prosecutor, judges and support agencies so we can reduce crime in Delaware County by reducing the number of repeat offenders who commit offenses because of untreated mental health issues,” Lewis said. “There’s both a human element and an economic element, that’s why I say it’s a win-win for both taxpayers who spend a lot of money on our jail, and also helping those who need to be helped.”
Before becoming a commissioner, Lewis was a Genoa Township trustee for seven years. A graduate of Big Walnut High School with three degrees from The Ohio State University, she has worked for the Ohio Department of Development and managed successful election campaigns. She has taught government at OSU and worked as a lobbyist. Lewis lives in Genoa Township with her husband of 45 years, Jim, and they attend the Church of the Resurrection. They have two grown sons.
The commission’s website said Lewis “is guided by a simple philosophy of good governance: keep taxes low, the community safe, and infrastructure sound; promote the private sector’s creation of well-paying jobs; protect and develop the community’s resources responsibly; care for the needs of our less fortunate; and collaborate, openly and honestly, and be a good listener.”
Lewis is the second female president of the board of commissioners in Delaware County. Debbie Martin was president in 2000 and 2004.
“I look forward to being president,” she said after her selection. “We’re going to focus on doing what’s best for Delaware County.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.