HICKSVILLE – There’s going to be a change of leadership in the village.
Mayor Ron Jones has decided not to run for re-election this year. Councilman Mike Barth, who is running unopposed, is set to be the next mayor. “I’ve been on Hicksville Council for 20 years and now am completing four years as mayor,” Jones reflected. “I have thoroughly enjoyed serving this community, but it’s time for new ideas and leadership. It’s time for me to step down and enjoy some traveling and more family time.”
When Jones became Mayor his goals were “to communicate and encourage growth with our business owners and industrial partners, to develop housing opportunities in our community, and to continue to expand our parks.” Under Jones' leadership, the downtown business district has been growing right along with local industry. “As of right now, we have four existing industries that are planning expansions with great potential for increased jobs,” he said. “We have a spec building that is going to be built by Bryan Keller at the Industrial Park. This has been a goal and I’ve been working with the Defiance County CIC to get this accomplished.
Jones also praised the community for its work to better the village. “Our community has really stepped up to improve our Little League fields and softball diamonds,” he stressed. “They are working on a walking trail, and wow, what a splash pad and pool is being built. Our park is certainly growing and doing well.”
Jones stressed that housing is still an issue in the village, but officials are working to get LaBar Drive developed to create about 50 building lots. As mayor there are some projects he is most proud of in the community. He said the water well fields have been completed and “are vital for our community and the new water tower, which are the results of a lot of work, writing and receiving grants.”
He also is proud of the exciting work happening at the parks with the new pool and splash pad.
“This all started through a few private community donors, who then engaged the community into helping to raise the money,” he stressed. “At that point, the council decided it would be cheaper to join the swimming pool replacement project with the splash pad. This allows for some shared facilities and just makes sense financially for the village.”
Being mayor during COVID offered some challenges that previous mayors did not have to deal with. Jones said by following the guidance from the county health department, the village was able to continue to serve the community. “I think our village handled it very well,” he reflected. “The offices were closed to the public, but all council meetings were still held and all employees were considered to be essential and continued to work to serve the community.”
While COVID was difficult, when asked what the hardest part about being mayor was, Jones said the government bureaucracy adding “anything you do in government takes a lot longer. There are lots of steps and regulations that you have to work with, and it can be very frustrating.”
The best part of being mayor was seeing all the positive things in the community as well as being able to speak to students about the local government. “I hope I will be remembered as a leader who was honest and fair,” Jones stated. “Someone who would listen to both sides to help find a solution. I’m not a ‘front and center guy.’ I hope I’ll be remembered as working with others for the betterment of our community.” Jones said he thinks Barth will do fine as the village’s next mayor as “he is involved and truly cares about our village.”
Left: Outgoing Hicksville Mayor Ron Jones.
Right: Incoming Hicksville Mayor Mike Barth.
Barth is looking forward to the mayoral seat. “Mayor Jones has done a great job as mayor for the past four years, as well as many years prior to that being a council member,” Barth remarked. “I will take what I have learned from Mayor Jones, along with past mayors Diane Collins and Larry Haver, to help serve the community.”
Barth said that being Mayor of Hicksville has been a goal for a long time. “I have enjoyed my time being on council for the last 14 years and have felt (it) led to becoming mayor,” he stated, adding “I like helping people. I want to do whatever I can to help our village grow and thrive.”
When he first took office as a councilman, Barth said he needed to learn how things worked and build relationships with other council members and residents. Being on different council committees has helped him learn how things operate in the village. Barth said as a councilman his goals were for water and sanitary improvements throughout the village. He said many projects have been completed, but there are future projects still waiting to begin.
Barth said he has several goals as mayor including completing the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-term control plan, work to increase the village population and move to have council be nonpartisan for elected positions. Barth knows there are several challenges facing the village. The village needs a community grocery store and more staffing for emergency services, he said. “Housing is a challenge,” he reflected, adding there is a “need to find builders that will invest in our community.”
Barth said as mayor the top three projects he hopes to complete include working on residential housing; retail business and industrial growth; and to fully staff the village’s fire, EMS and police departments. He is really looking forward to serving the community and working with all the village departments. “We have a lot of great residents that volunteer their time and resources to many different service projects,” Barth reflected. “We are a giving community.”
He said the village has a wonderful school system, diversified businesses and great amenities such as the Huber Opera House and parks. Barth is really looking forward to being mayor.
“I am here to serve the residents, businesses and organizations of Hicksville,” he stated. “I will keep an open mind and an open-door policy to meet the needs of our village.”