Pataskala City Council selects life-long resident, business owner Mary Hite as new member
As western Licking County continues to change, Pataskala City Council has selected a new member that understands the city's roots to help lead it into the future.
Pataskala City Council approved Mary Hite in a 5-0 vote as the new representative for the 2nd Ward seat during a special meeting Jan. 30. Council Member Tom Lee was absent.
Hite has been a life-long resident of the area, dating back to when it was Lima Township before merging with the then-village of Pataskala in the late 1990s.
She owns a family farm, Mink Street Market, where they raise and sell hogs as well as offer mums, cut flowers, baked goods and various other products. Prior to that, she was the director of operations at the Reynoldsburg's Flowerama for 26 years.
She was a member of the charter commission when the city was formed, and also sat on the board of zoning appeals previously. Hite was a member of the Licking Heights Local Schools Board of Education for one term in the mid 2000s.
"I believe in the city. We've come a long way," she said during her interview. "There's a lot of growth that's going to happen. I believe that we need to strategically plan that growth and understand where we're going with it and what's going to happen to the city as a whole."
Because Hite has been a life-long resident of the area, Council President Andy Walther said she understands where they city has been, where it is now and where it is going in the future. The 2nd Ward has special circumstances because it's on the city's border and has a mix of housing subdivisions and farmland, Walther said.
"It was obvious that Mary fit those shoes to help steer ward 2 and the council through the next years of governance," he said.
Hite said during her interview that farming is her passion, but she understands the development pressure Pataskala is under as the Intel Corporation, Amazon, Google and other companies continue to move into western Licking County. She has a front-row seat as the 2nd Ward borders Jersey Township and the Franklin County line.
Hite said she knows people want the area to remain rural, and she believes the city can maintain that atmosphere and some farmland while also adding additional housing.
"We have to have the people to bring in the the other things that people want in the city," she said.
The 2nd Ward seat has been vacant since Melissa Carter, who had served since 2014, resigned Dec. 5 and was appointed the following day as the city's representative on the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District Board of Trustees.
City council members voted unanimously Jan. 17 to repost the position after not receiving any applications before the Jan. 10 deadline. The second time around five people applied for the seat, including Hite. Other applicants included:
Robert Kulpa, a Pataskala resident since 2020 and an AEP Energy field sales manager.
Melissa Langkamp, a business manager at Rain One who has lived in Pataskala since 1997 and has previously served as a Pataskala Parks Board member.
Debra Giannaris, a human resources case manager senior at Huntington National Bank who has lived in Pataskala for four years.
Richard Belt, a retired firefighter and U.S. Army Reserves veteran who moved to Pataskala in 2018.
Generally, the 2nd Ward is on the city's far west side and is bordered by Cleveland Road to the south, Mink Street to the east, Dixon Road to the west and Morse Road to the north.
Hite will serve until the current term ends Dec. 31, and voters will select a candidate to serve a full, four-year term during the November election.
Hite said after the meeting she has not decided if she will run for the seat. She wants to be sure she can successfully operate her business and represent the residents at the same time.
"As long as time allows, I will give it my all," she said.
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Pataskala City Council selects life-long resident Hite as new member