The Ohio State University at Marion


Student and business leaders share in Government Day

Three sesquicentennial scholars pose outside Marion City Hall as part of Government Day.

Ohio State Marion students Caroline Anderson, Amber Alexander, and Kaleigh Seibert joined members of the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program at Government Day, January 17th in downtown Marion.

The three students were among 150 selected university-wide to represent the Sesquicentennial Student Scholar Leadership Program. Through this program, students are awarded $2,500 scholarships while they build the skills and fortitude essential to becoming engaged citizens through leadership development and ambassador opportunities.

Members of the Chamber’s Leadership Program have a similar focus, to develop and implement new leadership skills, as well as learn about the community of Marion. Marion Mayor Scott Shertzer and Municipal Judge Teresa Ballinger shared their perspectives on leadership and local government with the group.

Mayor Shertzer kicked things off, sharing the path to his current position and his recollection of how others have shaped and influenced him along the way. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Mary Ellen Withrow, 40th Treasurer of the United States, were among those he credited – learning firsthand about the political process and our American republic from his political mentors. Shertzer emphasized to group participants that we live in a “republic” not a flat-out democracy.

“If you don’t like the direction or policies of an elected candidate, you can change that direction with your vote the next time around,” he said.

Shertzer also discussed the challenge of food insecurity and blighted houses in Marion with attendees. According to the mayor, the solution to urban blight involves a complicated process with multiple layers to uncover before actions can take place to restore properties. Shertzer also noted construction of a much need new terminal at Marion Municipal Airport, which he shared is a long overdue need for the facility.

The second stop on the Government Day tour included Marion Municipal Court, where they observed Judge Teresa Ballinger in action as she arraigned several people who had been charged with misdemeanors. In addition to seeing criminal defendants formally advised of the charges against them and hearing what plea they entered to their charges, they also watched video arraignments. This is a new part of the daily routine, which helps save time and expedites the process for those involved.

“In high school I got to attend Buckeye Girls State, which was a mock state government, so it was really cool to take a closer look at the more local level government,” said Sesquicentennial Scholar, Caroline Anderson.

Ballinger presides over 19,000 cases each year. She has 1.5 magistrates that support her and ten probation officers. She oversees three specialized dockets: mental health, a drug court, and a veteran’s treatment court. Each of these incorporate a structured process of resources with recovery as the main goal for each person impacted.

“Judge Ballinger, having started as a social worker, was pretty cool for me to see as a social work student. Opportunities with social work are endless,” Anderson added.

Catherine Gerber, Director of Development and Community Relations and current Marion Leadership participant said, “It was a great opportunity for our Ohio State student scholars to participate in our Marion Leadership Government Day.”

“It was valuable for them to see how our elected officials operate in the real world and observe firsthand day to day business in the municipal court,” she added. “Seeing how a college degree can be built upon and put to use, (as Judge Ballinger shared with the students) was also important,” Gerber stated.