STEUBENVILLE - A second senior City Council member has announced he will not seek re-election this year.
Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins had been hinting at not running for re-election and he made that decision official Wednesday afternoon when he didn't file his candidacy petition at the Jefferson County Board of Elections office.
"It feels a little strange for me today. This is the first time in a long time that I haven't run for city office. I have spent 30 years of my adult life serving this city in one capacity or another. I felt it was time to step down. We need fresh faces with fresh ideas on City Council," Perkins explained Wednesday.
END OF AN ERA — Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins stands in front of the Steubenville City Hall Wednesday to discuss his decision to not seek re-election to his council seat.
Last month, 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich announced he would not seek re-election after four terms on city council.
"I was 26 years old when I was first elected as the 2nd Ward councilman in 1974. In those days we had two-year terms and I served two terms. My second time on the council came in the 1980s when I was asked to serve for one year to fill a vacancy in the 2nd Ward seat. Then I came back in 1999 when I ran for the 2nd Ward seat again," recited Perkins.
"I also served about 14 years on the city's parks and recreation board, several of them as chairman of the board. As I said, I have spent a lot of years working for the city and I felt it was time for a change," Perkins noted.
"Once my term ends on Dec. 31, I will definitely miss serving on council. I enjoyed doing what I could for my constituents and the community. Several of the accomplishments I have participated in during my current time on council include the new water filtration plant, improvements at the raw sewage plant, the new City Building and of course the recent upgrades to our city parks," said Perkins.
"Our biggest accomplishment in recent years has to be the improvements at Belleview Park and Jim Wood Park. Those upgrades significantly made a difference in our park system. I just wish we had more money available to continue upgrades to the rest of the city parks," Perkins said.
"My biggest disappointment has to be when we were forced by financial issues to lay off city employees. It is a terrible feeling to sit on City Council and know we are laying someone off. They may come back to work for the city, but they will probably never have that particular job again. It affects their lives and the lives of their families. But, until we can get more tax dollars for the city we will continue to have financial difficulties," stated Perkins.
Perkins has long been known for his straight forward and frank approach during City Council meetings.
And his colleagues often chuckled when Perkins would pull off his glasses, stare intently at someone and say, "Let me make sure I understand you correctly."
"My best advice for the person who will succeed me as the 2nd Ward council member would be to start attending all council sunshine and regular meetings. And, attend every open committee meeting. They need to learn what issues the council is dealing with in their discussions. It will give them a better understanding about our city," remarked Perkins.
"Take care of their constituents. Those people put the candidate in office and they should be first on the priority list. You should take care of your constituents then the community as a whole. Always answer your phone calls and return messages left for you," advised Perkins.
"I doubt I will stop downtown to watch the council meetings. We will have several young council members and they don't need to see an old guy sitting in the audience. They don't need to wonder what I am thinking or what I would do in certain situations," said Perkins.
"I will have enough to keep me busy after I leave the council seat. I will stay busy with my children and grandchildren. When I was younger I was often on the road for work or doing something for the city. You can never get that time back, but I will be spending time with my kids and their kids," said Perkins.
"And I will be spending more time with my wife Elizabeth, who has put up with me all these years. She has been absolutely wonderful," Perkins emphasized.