Written by: Bonnie Brooks, Class of 2010
Newark Mayor Jeff Hall ran his first campaigns as a student at Newark High School, where the 1974 graduate was elected class president three years on the campaign slogan, “Vote for Hall, He’s on the Ball!” He also attended McGuffey Elementary and Roosevelt Junior High.
Hall worked at Rockwell International in Heath after high school graduation. He moved to Florida a few years later after taking vacation in the Sunshine State.
Hall worked in the construction industry, for New York Life Insurance and eventually focused on a financial career while in Florida. Hall and his wife, Helen, had a son, Philip, in 1997. When Philip was young, Hall obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and minor in Information Technology from Nova Southeastern University, taking classes during the evening.
The family moved back to Newark when Philip was ready to enter school because Ohio offered a less crowded school system, more structured business environment and proximity to family. Hall earned his Master’s degree in Accounting from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. He worked at an accounting firm in Columbus, but did not enjoy the daily commute and the limited time at home. When the Newark City Treasurer position opened up in 2010, Hall took the opportunity to work closer to home. He became mayor in 2012.
Hall was an honors student in high school, and was focused on his academic success.
“I loved math, and I loved science,” he said. “I liked thinking about the present and the future, so government was an interesting class for me, as well as economics. I wasn’t a big history buff, although now that’s really what I’m involved in with the downtown historic preservation and restoration.”
Hall attended high school during the Vietnam War era.
“That’s always something you’ll remember in history,” Hall said. “Around the time I started high school was the time of the Kent State riots. I had an English teacher who was good friends with one of the students who was shot, so I certainly remember her sharing that story. Vietnam launched the younger generation to speak out. There was less interest in going into the military. It gave (students) a topic to contest and question. We were moving from sitting in the classroom, listening to the teacher talk for forty minutes, to (students) participating a little more.”
Current Interaction with Newark City Schools
When running for mayor, Hall’s platform included a strong focus on engagement with the local school systems. Hall believes that a strong public and private school system is the key to a community’s future.
“Without a doubt, the focus is really to raise our children, educate them well, and have them stay here,” Hall said. “They’re the future leaders in many ways, whether it’s in private business or through a government position.”
Hall and Superintendent Doug Ute have worked hard to create a relationship between the city government and the schools.
“The schools have gone through phenomenal renovations,” Hall said. “It’s my job as mayor to reach out and thank the citizens for voting for those tax dollars.”
As mayor, Hall believes that improving the school system will bolster Newark’s economic development. Businesses will choose to locate in an area that provides a good school system for their employees.
Because his son, Philip, is a junior at Newark High School, Hall has the perspective of both parent and mayor.
“I’m kind of on the ‘customer side,’” Hall said. “It lets me be even more proud of the schools.”
Philip is able to take advanced placement courses and participate in extracurricular activities such as the swim team. Hall believes that this is a direct result of the high school’s size; students have many options and opportunities as well as a student population that mirrors the diversity of the community.
Hall is most proud of his achievements in developing public and private partnerships. The current downtown renovations are a perfect example of these partnerships in action.
“Downtown is the heart of the city, and we believe that you need to have a strong heart to have a good city” Hall said.
He also takes pride in Newark’s police and fire departments, which have been given top-ranked international accreditations.
Advice for Current Students
Hall encourages current students to find what they enjoy doing and determine jobs that relate to that field. He cites opportunities in the Newark area such as C-TEC and Newark High School’s “A Call to College” as valuable resources. He also wants students to take advantage of their everyday education.
“Stay involved and stay engaged,” Hall advises students. “You’ve got one shot at it. When this day is done, you can’t replay it.”
Hall believes that nothing is a substitute for hard work. “Don’t let peer pressure intimidate you” he says. “If you’re a nerd because you work hard and are smart, then you’re a nerd…so be it. In about ten or fifteen years, those roles will flip. ”