Westerville City Council
Aileen Wagner, a lifelong Ohio resident, launched her first petition at age 11 and has been working towards running for office ever since. She spent many years teaching in central Ohio and working as an editor at McGraw-Hill. Today, she is a successful small-business owner and educator who is running for Westerville City Council. She is mindful of the huge amount of growth Westerville is experiencing and the need for sustainable planning going forward. Aileen recognizes that affordable childcare is not just a women’s issue and that it will benefit everyone in the community. And despite these turbulent times, Aileen is confident that local politics can be a place where people from opposing parties can find common ground and work for the best interests of their community. She intends to do just that on Westerville City Council.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I was inspired to run this year by three of my friends who successfully took the plunge in 2017: Lauren Whitehead of Solon, Iowa; Carrianna Suiter of Hyattsville, MD; and, most of all, Valerie Cumming of Westerville. I was so excited and proud of them for stepping up and taking on the challenge. I’ve always been active in the community but their dedication was the push I needed to run for office myself.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
I am blessed to have had Rhine McLin as a mentor. I first interned with her when I was in high school and she was in the Ohio Senate. She taught me when someone comes to you for help, you use your position to help them, whether they can vote for you or not. Her ongoing support in my life means the world to me.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
My road to running for office starts when I was 11, and I organized the kids in the neighborhood to gather signatures opposing a traffic plan that would have endangered my younger neighbors. I still care that deeply about my community, but my sense of community has grown.
Thanks to my experience as a small business owner, I’m committed to working to support other businesses in Westerville and to making sure that the city’s budget is fiscally responsible.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I would love to see the diversity of today’s Westerville reflected, not just on council and the school board, but on our commissions and committees and in the leadership in our city government. As a Delaware County resident, I’d like to see it in the county-level government as well.
This will require new ways of publicizing opportunities, but the whole community will benefit from reflecting today’s Westerville and Delaware County.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
I am focused on sustainability and inclusion. Westerville is the only Central Ohio community with our own power company, and that puts us in the position to lead in finding more sustainable solutions. The city is also in the process of protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals because of the inaction of the state and federal governments. I fully support this effort. Westerville’s laws need to reflect the fact that its residents are welcoming of all people.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I was once a synchronized swimmer! I stopped eventually thanks to other commitments and allergies, but it was so much fun. And it’s something not that many people do!