Christopher Callender, 46
Oakwood Village council member
It was the mayor of Oakwood Village himself who convinced Christopher Cal-lender and his wife, Gina, to move to town.
“We were trying to decide if we were going to build [a home] there when we met Mayor Gary Gottschalk,” says Callender, director of student success at Cleveland Central Catholic High School. “And after talking to him, we knew this was the right place to be.”
Now a resident of nearly 15 years, Callender still loves how welcoming the village feels, with immaculate landscaping and decorative hang-ing baskets adorning downtown’s Broadway Avenue — leading right to the corporate offices and first commercial location of Petitti Garden Centers, which helps with upkeep.
“The mayor is big on how things look,” Cal-lender says. “It looks beautiful, which helps area businesses thrive.”
In 2014, a city council vacancy opened up for Ward 1, where Callender and his family live. Neighbors convinced him to apply for the position, which he was appointed to — he has since been elected to the position twice. “It’s great to be able to hear the residents’ needs and try to help them — to be a voice of my community to the administrators at village hall,” Callender says.
He’s particularly proud of a voter registration drive organized last fall, as well as a rally and vigil hosted last summer in the midst of nationwide protests of police brutality. The Oakwood Village Police Department participated in the event, which Callender says is an opportunity unique to such a small community. “It was a chance for people to get to know their law enforcement so we can all feel more comfortable,” he says. “We’re trying to bridge that gap between police and the residents.”