Before he started his current term as governor, before he was an Ohio member of Congress for 18 years, even before he represented central Ohio in the state senate, John Kasich was a Westerville resident.
“I live there. It’s my home,” the governor says when asked about his affinity for the area. His current home is in Genoa Township, just north of the city proper, “but it’s still a Westerville address,” he emphasizes.
“It’s just part of me,” Kasich says.
Those who know about his attachment to Westerville were not surprised when he made plans as governor to maintain his family’s home rather than move with First Lady Karen Kasich and their twin daughters to the official governor’s residence in Bexley. He has called the area home since graduating from Ohio State University in 1974.
Kasich has had other opportunities to leave town but turned them down.
“When I left Congress people would ask, ‘Do you want to live in New York?’ I said, ‘No way! I’m not leaving home.’ Our home is Westerville.”
The northeast Columbus suburb is a place where the governor feels comfortable—enough so, he says, that he might run a quick errand to a local shop in gym clothes after a workout. “I go to the pharmacy there. I get flowers there for my wife and daughters. I stick my head in the door at the bakery. I have friends there. I hang out there. I hang out in a normal way.”
Kasich says he has been going to the dentist for decades in Westerville and went to a Westerville barber for years as well, even as some of his earlier longish hairstyles might have been viewed a bit unfavorably. “I was loyal to Westerville. It’s just a cool town. It’s just a part of me,” he repeats.
Over the years, Kasich recalls seeing Westerville grow dramatically from “a smallish quaint town to a bustling town.”
“I remember being able to just run out in the country from my old home,” he adds.
The governor’s attachment to Westerville will be apparent for years to come. After he left Congress in 2001, Kasich donated his congressional papers to the Westerville Public Library.
In addition to official documents, the John R. Kasich Congressional Collection includes photographs and videos from throughout his political career, including 1995 hearings on his work to balance the federal budget as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Such papers are often turned over to larger national institutions, but Kasich, a native of Pennsylvania, said it was important to him to give his papers to his adopted hometown library. He says he wants it to have some papers of significance from his service as governor as well.
The affection is apparently reciprocated. The library’s website carries this subtitle under the official name of the Kasich collection: Congressman. Governor. Neighbor.