Ontario City Hall. (The Enterprise/file)

ONTARIO – Susann Mills, an Ontario property manager, has been appointed to the Ontario City Council, filling a seat left empty with the recall in June of Freddy Rodriguez.

James Grissett, an engineer and the only person of color up for consideration, had been endorsed by the city’s Diversity Advisory Council. 

With consensus among the councilors that all the candidates were qualified, Councilor Eddie Melendrez nominated Grissett for the position. Mayor Riley Hill agreed that he appreciated Grissett’s service to the community on the planning commission, but said that he would support Mills for the position. 

Mills won the seat with votes from Hill and Councilors Sam Baker, Ken Hart, and John Kirby. Councilor Michael Braden was absent. 

“Whatever the choice the council made, I would’ve been happy, but I’m very happy and excited to be part of it,” said Mills, a longtime Ontario resident who served as a councilor from 2006 to 2010.

Mills was born in Portland, educated in Boise and Midvale, and graduated from high school in Weiser. She then attended business school in Boise, taking stenography and secretarial courses before working two years for the school’s president. 

After meeting her husband, Mills worked for various businesses in Ontario before getting into the rental market. She has owned Mills Rentals with her husband for more than 30 years. 

In her application for city council, Mills said that her work had helped her to get to know the city. 

Besides her participation on several volunteer committees, Mills said that “I feel my biggest involvement in the community is through our rental business renovating and maintaining affordable housing.” 

Mills said that no one had asked her to run for city council. Rather, her curiosity about city functions and desire to be part of the “betterment of Ontario” prompted her to apply. 

“I just think there was a lot going on that I was interested in, in getting more insight on and there’s no better way than to get on city council,” Mills said. 

There are various issues that Mills hopes to address on the council. 

“I’m very concerned about the ordinances, about the city’s upkeep and the crime in the city, and the homeless and the lack of housing,” she said. “Winter’s coming up and I really worry about a lot of these people (who) won’t have a shelter.”

Mills also cited poor retention of staff by the city as an issue she hoped to better understand. She said that during her last term on the city council, she enjoyed being part of the hiring for staff.

Mills said that while she was on the council before, she helped organize Serve Day and the placement of a welcome sign at the western entrance to Ontario. 

Mills said her previous experience on the Ontario council was “totally educational.”

“I realized how much it takes to run the city,” she said. “When I decided not to run the second term, it was because at the time I was managing 125 rentals. I just felt that my business needed me.” 

“Did I miss it?” she continued. “Absolutely.”

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577. 

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