Council members Kelly McGivern and Tom Baker

Council Members Kelly McGivern and Tom Baker Take Their Seats for the Last Time

Posted December 10, 2021 in City Council by Mary Smith

On Monday night, Council members Kelly McGivern and Tom Baker will take their seats for the last time as City Council members, wrapping up multiple terms as elected officials leading the City through an era of extraordinary change.

Both Council members chose not to seek re-election in November.

Their seats will be filled in January by incoming Council members Tina Cottone and Peggy Hale, who were elected Nov. 2 along with returning incumbents Les Carrier and Andy Teater.

Kelly McGivern

McGivern has served on Council since 2008.

“We have had so many accomplishments during my 14 years on City Council,” she said. “The top three would be the progress we have made in jobs, revitalizing Old Hilliard, and an increased emphasis on public safety.”

In the area of job development, the City has seen major employers such as Amazon, BMW, Verizon, new hotels, and many other businesses choosing Hilliard as their home.

“The revenue growth from these businesses made other community improvements possible, such as new pools and recreational opportunities,” McGivern said. “Thanks to efforts by the City to improve our economic development efforts, Hilliard is viewed as a much more favorable site for business development and a much more welcoming partner for business growth than in the past.” 

As for Old Hilliard, the City’s focus on redeveloping and revitalizing the heart of the city has polished that area into a “community gem.”

“We are on a path for growth, and there is no reason it can’t continue,” McGivern said. “There are so many exciting things happening in Old Hilliard, from new businesses to vibrant special events. I believe that area is now starting to serve as a catalyst for growth for other areas of the City, which was the vision we had we began reinvesting in that area of our community.”

McGivern said she also is proud of the progress the City has made in the area of public safety.

“I travel a great deal for my work, and I truly believe the Hilliard Division of Police is one of the finest in the country,” she said. “During my time on Council, I have been continually impressed by the dedication, the continued focus on excellence, and the community’s appreciation for the great work done by the women and men who work for our Division of Police.”

If she were to offer advice to the incoming Council members, it would be, “Always do what is in the best interest of the community. Have the courage to go against the political winds and focus on jobs, public safety, and community enhancements that improve our quality of life!”

McGivern said she is not sure how much free time will become available for her, as her work as vice president of government affairs for Molina Healthcare is time consuming.

“My full-time job is demanding more work and business travel, and I simply can no longer dedicate the time to City Council that is needed,” she said. “That is why I decided to not run for re-election.”

Tom Baker

Baker has served on Council since 2013.

He said the three accomplishments he is most proud of helping to see to fruition during his time on Council have been guiding the City to a city manager form of government, establishing working relationships with leadership in Hilliard City Schools and Norwich Township, and guiding the City through the revitalization of Old Hilliard.

“I think Hilliard is set from a governance standpoint to continue to make a great place for families to live and businesses to thrive,” Baker said. “Moving forward, I encourage residents to become engaged with their City government, and to use the City’s online resources to offer their input on what they want from the City and Council rather than local social media pages where messages get lost in online debate.”

Baker said he has learned a great deal while on Council, which he is happy to pass on to incoming elected officials.

“While getting opinions within your own network is valuable, be sure to get input from outside of your network,” he said. “Go to the residents, and definitely – while not ignoring them – go outside of the people in the Administration and outside of other elected officials from the townships and schools.”

Baker recommended having one-on-one discussions and building relationships with each Council member to understand their positions on legislation.

“Therefore, when you disagree, agree to disagree amicably,” Baker advised. “And be open to the opinions of others. Do not go into meetings with your mind made up on legislation when there are still expert witnesses or educated public opinion to hear.”

Baker said he is looking forward to having more time to spend entertaining his four grandchildren, volunteering in the community, boating, fishing, and getting involved in keeping the waters of his lake clean.

Baker is a managing partner for Baker & Associates Insurance Agency, a local Hilliard business.