By: Shar Dimick
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Kathy Huner never expected to be Mayor of Wauseon this year let alone the first woman mayor of Wauseon and the first Latino mayor in Ohio.
Elected to council in January of 2000, Huner served three terms until she resigned in December 2012 to run for mayor against Doug Shaw. “I lost to Doug, but it was a close race so I knew that Wauseon was still supporting my views. I took two years off and I thought I was done with politics, but I missed the serving and many people encouraged me to run again.”
Re-elected to council in January 2014, Huner said, “I was so pleased. They wanted me back in. I never expected the turn of events.”
Referring to Mayor Doug Shaw’s retirement announcement, Huner said that according to the by-laws of city council the next in line would be the president of council, Heather Kost. When Kost stepped aside due to schedule considerations and instead nominated Huner for the position, Huner said she was “surprised and honored. I have such great admiration for her.”
Huner was sworn in as the Mayor of Wauseon after the November 3 council meeting.
A former Wauseon graduate, Chris Rodriguez, a councilman in White Hall, Ohio, contacted her after reading about her in the newspaper. Huner said that he told her that she held one of the highest offices for the Latino community in Ohio. “That was a shock to me. I was blown away,” Huner said. She did some double-checking and found out she is indeed the first Latino mayor. “In a way I’m shocked,” she said, “but it’s sad. I can’t believe I’m the first and its 2014! Are you kidding me? It just happened and I would have never known that.”
Huner is half-Mexican. Her father, Roger Trejo, a retried, Wauseon patrolman, was born in Texas and with his family eventually moved to Tedrow, OH. Huner joked, “I don’t speak Spanish, but I do make tamales!”
She first started in politics thirteen years ago when she ran for city council and was elected to serve. She said at the time her now grown children where young and the drive-in had just closed. It got her started thinking about the future of Wauseon. “I wanted things to happen…I wanted things to be created here that would draw my children back after college. I want our young children to grow up in a town that they love, go off to college and say I want to come back and raise my family here or in this area, because of what we offered them at the time.”
“That’s why I ran. I just felt like I could serve better and making decisions for the betterment of the city so that it would encourage people to come back. That’s not an easy job, but I always want to stay positive with Wauseon.”
As mayor, Huner said her focus hasn’t changed. “My goal is to constantly and sincerely try to promote Wauseon. We have this downtown revitalization project where we got the grant money and for me that is huge, but we can’t forget that there is more than just downtown. I really want to promote this city and try to get people from the outside to look at us. In order to do that we have to be active. So I plan on being an active mayor and planning on participating in whatever it will take to promote this city…I want the citizens to know that we are not asleep. I’ve always prided myself on listening to the people and I want to continue to do that.”
She said that she’s planning to run for mayor when she finishes out Shaw’s remaining term, “I gave up three years on council and I have one year to pretty much tell people that I’m here for them. I have no personal agendas I just want to serve them. It sounds cheesey, but that’s who I am.”
Huner was born and raised in Wauseon, OH. She graduated from Wauseon High School in 1981. She also holds an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Learning and Administration from Northwest State. She’s taught pre-school for the last 30 years and is currently in her first year at True North Kindergarten Readiness Tutoring School.
Shar may be reached at