Sandy Denes received a key to the village and words of thanks Dec. 18 as she finished her last village council meeting.
First elected to replace Harold Sumpter in 2009, Denes has served two four-year terms and was council president in 2016. In June, she announced there would be no attempt at a third.
William Bogan, a former Wellington board of education member and current teacher at Lorain High School, will step into her seat in January.
“You have no idea what those remarks meant to me,” Denes said. “I always prepared, read my council packets, and wasn’t afraid to have an opinion, whether it’s a popular or unpopular one. It’s bittersweet to see my time on council come to an end.”
“I’ve enjoyed serving Wellington and it was my privilege,” she said. “I thank Wellington for choosing me to do it for two terms. This is a generous, caring community.”
Asked to name a piece of legislation she was proud of supporting, she recalled helping to establish the village caring fund, which gives utility customers the option to round their bills up to the next dollar with proceeds going to families in need. Customers must choose to opt in to the program but Denes said she wishes it were the other way around.
“We don’t have as much participation as I’d like to see but it’s still a good thing,” she said. “There just wasn’t enough support for the opt-in. I couldn’t get it passed that way. I wanted someone to have to choose not to spend the extra 23 or 49 cents per month.”
Other steps forward Denes cited were the completion of the Main Street underpass, acquisition of the former McCormick Middle School property and ensuing park planning there, as well as restructuring of council’s committee meetings.
She hopes officials will continue to leave the door open for a vacant property registry, which was discussed at length this summer by Main Street Wellington. The proposal would fine downtown property owners who fail to actively attempt to rent out buildings after a certain amount of time.
“I was a big proponent years ago for a registry,” she said. “We get many complaints about our downtown and the look of the vacant meetings. It was in our ordinance committee for about a year but it just didn’t garner the needed support. If a building is in our downtown, it’s up to us to make owners start thinking about what they want to do with those buildings.”
Denes will continue to serve on the village planning commission until an expected move to Huntington Township where she plans to build a new house.
“We lost a dear friend, Rich McHugh, this year and the mayor has not appointed a replacement for him,” she said. “So I’m happy to stick around and continue to help out. It makes perfect sense to keep me on there because I know the issues and I want to continue to serve.”
Mayor Hans Schneider said Denes was eager to learn about the village’s workings even before she was elected to council.
“She’s been a tremendous asset to this village and a tremendous friend to me,” he said. “It’s been a privilege getting to know her over these years and she will be dearly missed up here on Monday nights. We’re happy to be keeping her around for a while in some capacity.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.