Strickland and Abigail Wexner

From the August 2010 edition

Most of the Titans kept their money to themselves through the June 2010 filing period as Gov. Ted Strickland and his Republican opponent, former Congressman John Kasich of Westerville, geared up for their much anticipated November showdown. Just one of Central Ohio’s top powerbrokers, Abigail Wexner, donated during the first six months of 2010. The wife of Limited Brands founder Les Wexner forked over $11,395 to Strickland in May, according to campaign finance reports. Though Ohio State president Gordon Gee is staying out of the race, many of his employees are not. Kasich tallied 13 contributions from self-identified Ohio State staffers for a total of nearly $6,000. Strickland received the same number of donations, but a larger overall haul: $8,400, including contributions from such prominent staffers as Gee’s counselor Herb Asher ($300), general counsel Christopher Culley ($1,500), communications director Tom Katzenmeyer ($2,500), as well as $500 from pediatrician Pat Gabbe, the wife of OSU Medical Center head honcho Steve Gabbe. Locally, Strickland appears to be beating Kasich in the fundraising game, despite Kasich’s deep Columbus connections. Strickland totaled $434,762 from people and organizations with city of Columbus mailing addresses, more than three times Kasich’s haul.

Whittier Elementary School in Westerville boasts a lunch lady with an unusual weekend job—news anchor. For the past two years, Channel 4’s Mindy Drayer has spent her weekdays minding the school’s lunchroom. She took the duty so she could spend more time with her two kids: Kylan, 8, and Kamryn, 7. “I love it,” says Drayer (who is featured in “Best of Columbus” on page 49). “I see them every day. I get to meet their friends and make sure they’re hanging out with decent people.” She doesn’t serve food, but handles just about every other chore, from monitoring recess to opening ketchup packets. There is one thing she won’t touch, however. “If someone pukes, I run and get the janitor,” she says with a laugh.

Sheryle Powell, the newly appointed executive director of the King Arts Complex, is no stranger to the stage. The classically trained mezzo-soprano studied opera at Ohio State in the mid 1970s when she was a high school student. “My glee club teacher encouraged me to find a voice teacher,” she says. “He saw, I guess, above average talent.” Her training led her to performances at Vets Memorial and the Ohio and the Palace theaters. A particularly fun memory, she says, is when she was 13 and one of the youngest contestants to perform and place in the Miss Teenage Columbus pageant. “I sang ‘Life is a Cabaret,’ ” she says, laughing. In college, Powell recorded some songs as a part of a traveling singing and drama group called Fruit of the Spirit at Indiana’s Anderson University, where she studied arts and opera. Today, she sings at weddings, funerals and church services at Hilltop Church of God, and then there are the occasional impromptu concerts for staff at the complex. “I always play music in my office and they’ll catch me singing,” she says. “Everything reminds me of a song.”