Recent UT graduate starts 2019 as Oak Harbor mayor

January 18th, 2019 Posted in From Our Alumni

By Chase M. Foland

Last year, Quinton Babcock (NSM ’18, A/L ’18) was a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College, working on two BA degrees. As 2019 began, he was sitting in the office of the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio — his new office.

So how did a fresh-out-of-college 22-year-old become mayor of Oak Harbor?

Babcock ran and was elected to the Oak Harbor Village Council in December 2015.

“I had always had an interest in public service, and I felt I had acquired some professional skills that I could put to good use in the community,” he says.

In August, the Oak Harbor mayor resigned. Protocol says the mayor is succeeded by the president pro tempore, who is the president of the Oak Harbor Village Council.

At the time, the president pro tempore, Don Douglas, was in the middle of a campaign for Ottawa County Commissioner. Due to the uncertainty if Douglas would be elected to this position, Oak Harbor had to elect another president to replace him.

“I was elected by the council to be the president pro tempore,” Babcock says. “Come November, Mr. Douglas won his election for county commissioner and … I will serve as mayor for the duration of 2019.”

About one week into his new position, Babcock says he was doing a search for a new fiscal officer who handles finances, directs human resources and serves as the village council secretary. “Ultimately, the new fiscal officer will be appointed by the mayor with confirmation by the village council,” says Babcock.   

As the new mayor, he wants to create a trust with the government.

“I think people generally feel very disempowered when it comes to government; they feel the government is not responsive to their concerns,” Babcock says. “With that in my mind, I would like to use my change in position to increase transparency, accountability, accessibility and responsiveness of the village government.”

Luckily, Babcock considers responding to citizens’ concerns one of the main benefits of his job as mayor. “I think the best perk and natural consequence of this is being more directly involved in supporting both village staff members and residents. It’s a real pleasure to get to speak about the great work our employees are doing and to make residents’ interactions as smooth as possible.”

Babcock also wants to address the concern of the possible closure of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, a major employer of area residents. “I think it’s important that the village plays an active role in advocating for statewide policy changes to help us adapt to the nationally changing power generation industry. Further, it is important that the village residents are kept informed,” he says.

For Babcock, knowledge is power. “I think my UT education has positioned me well to understand the problems and evaluate the potential solutions regarding this issue, especially—for example— because nuclear energy is a carbon-free source of power,” he says.

Babcock earned two BA degrees — one in economics and disability studies, and one in mathematics. He concentrated in environmental economics and wrote his BA thesis on research in that area.

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