Marvin Dabish attended his first Oregon City Council meeting as a member last week and did what any sensible newcomer to city government does: He listened.
“I’ve attended a lot of council meetings as a citizen,” he said. “But it’s totally different when you’re sitting up there as a councilman.”
Mr. Dabish, 36, takes the council seat vacated by Mike Sheehy, who was appointed to the Ohio House to complete the term of Matt Szollosi, who resigned. Mr. Dabish won Mr. Sheehy’s seat, pursuant to the Oregon City Charter, by being the next highest vote-getter in the last council election.
Mayor Mike Seferian swore him in at a private ceremony June 26.
Mr. Dabish, a Democrat, moved to Oregon from Warren, Mich., in 2006, when his family bought the former Food Town grocery store on Main Street in East Toledo. The family still owns the store, called the Toledo Food Market.
Mr. Dabish said he has made a happy home in Oregon, and he’s there to stay.
“I will never move back to Michigan. I’ve made all new friends, and my family is comfortable here. It’s a great school system,” he said. He and his fiancee, Lisa Gillies, have two children, Peter, 9, and Madison, 6. Both attend Starr Elementary School.
Mr. Dabish’s family is in a variety of businesses. It is among the largest owners of Internet cafes in Ohio, with one in Oregon, two in Toledo, and Players Club outlets in Tiffin, Fremont, Findlay, Fostoria, Defiance, and Warren. It also owns a strip mall in Fremont and an ATM company with 19 units.
Mr. Dabish’s brother, Robert, has defended the Internet cafe industry before state legislators in Columbus. Barring a successful referendum effort, a law takes effect Sept. 4 that will all but put the cafes out of business by banning cash payouts and capping non-cash prizes at $10.
The Dabish businesses employ more than 300. Mr. Dabish said eventually he wants to be assigned to council’s economic development committee, where he believes his business background can be put to good use.
Jim Seaman, a 22-year council member, said Mr. Dabish’s temperament and business experience make him a good fit for council.
“He’s got a heart of gold, and he understands the consumer real well. He knows how to provide an environment for successful commerce,” he explained.
Mr. Dabish is finishing an unexpired two-year term and said he plans to run for a full term of his own in November. The city is in its first phase of transitioning to four-year terms for council members, with the top three vote-getters earning the longer term.
“I’ll be going out to all the local events such as football games and whatever is going on in Oregon and meeting people,” he said.
“We’ll have yard signs and mailers. I’m honored to have this chance to work with the other council members and the mayor and administration and want to do a good job as a councilman and get elected.”