THORNVILLE- Simply being young doesn’t mean a person cannot make a huge difference in his or her community.
Late last month, Perry County Judge Luann Cooperrider swore Thornville Village Council member Olivia Newbold into office, just a few months after Newbold’s eighteenth birthday. While she may or may not be the youngest village council member to serve in the State of Ohio, she is definitely the youngest in the Buckeye Lake area. She discussed with The Beacon why she believes it is important for her and other young people to become involved with local public service.
Beacon: Do you know if you’re the youngest person currently serving on an Ohio village council?
Olivia Newbold: I’m not sure if I am the youngest person currently serving on an Ohio village council. I haven’t had the time to look into it. However, I was appointed to an empty council seat in September 2015, three months after my eighteenth birthday.
B: How did you become interested in joining Thornville Village Council?
ON: I’ve lived my entire life in Thornville and I plan on staying here. I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to a community that has done so much for me. I’ve always had an interest in public service so when I heard of the open seat on council, I saw an opportunity and took it.
B: Is this your first experience with politics (have you been on student council or anything similar)?
ON: Yes, in eighth grade I was student council president. I remained active in student council throughout high school. As a freshman I served as our class representative. I am now a class officer for the 2016 graduating class.
B: Do you have plans to make a career of politics and if so, in what way? What would be your ultimate goal?
ON: Public service is my passion and calling. I can foresee a career in public service, but to what capacity or extent depends on the opportunities that present themselves. My immediate goal is to be the best council member I can for the Village of Thornville.
B: What do you see as the major issues facing the village today and why?
ON: A major issue for me is improving community involvement and participation in village activities. The only way Villagers can get involved in village activities is if they know what is going on inside our local government. As a council, we have to listen to and communicate with the Villagers and make sound decisions based upon the wants and needs of the community.
Communication among council members and the Villagers of Thornville is key to a prosperous community. As a result of better communication, we can work together to bring more events to the village. I’m working hard with the other members on council to expand our Parks and Recreation Department. It’s important that our town doesn’t stay stagnant but progresses in the way that the Villagers feel is appropriate and necessary.
B: What would you say to other younger people wishing to explore politics and public service? Why should they be interested in doing so?
ON: I would tell other young people wishing to explore politics and public service to get involved. We are the future of this community, state and nation. We can make a difference just as well, or better than, any generation before us. Public service is the most rewarding thing you can devote your time to.
B: How have the other council members (some have served for a very long time) reacted to your joining council?
ON: Obviously, just as any young person trying to break into a professional atmosphere, I’ve had to work hard to be taken seriously. Respect should not be given, but should be earned through hard work. I’ve learned a lot from the people I’m on council with, and I have received support and advice from many of the Villagers, which is greatly appreciated and very encouraging. Being able to experience local government firsthand is an experience for which I’ll forever be grateful.
B: What are the council and village related issues most important you, personally?
ON: Any issue that is important to the Villagers is important to me. During my time on council I want to encourage community pride and feel the only way that will happen is if council listens to the needs and wants of its Villagers. I want to focus on bringing family oriented activities to Thornville, like renovating the sand volleyball courts and making the swimming pool the focus of our village’s summer activities. I also have a personal interest in protecting our environment, just as many millennials do. As more and more millennials move into our town, we should and hopefully will, take steps to better reduce our carbon footprint.
B: Is there anyone you would like to thank following the election?
ON: I want to thank the constituents who voted for me in the November election and the council members who have mentored me during the last few months. I also want to thank the Villagers of Thornville for believing in me and for all of the help I have received from our tight-knit community. I may be young but I’m determined to better this community.
In other Thornville news:
• Monday night, council members elected Heidi Robinson to serve as council president.
• Mayor Gavin Renner said the village is badly in need of people to serve on its planning commission and encouraged residents to apply.
• Administrator Beth Patrick said the Perry County Commissioners may attend the Jan. 25 council meeting to discuss their plans to contract with Licking County for sewer service to Northern Perry County. Currently, Perry County contracts with Thornville.