By Jeff Gallatin
After serving more than 21 years for North Olmsted – including 11-and-a-half years as the Ward 2 city councilman and another 10 as a volunteer on community boards – Paul Barker is adding another facet to his work for the city.
Barker, the senior member of North Olmsted City Council, announced at last night’s council meeting he is resigning from City Council effective Feb. 20 to become a property maintenance inspector in the city’s building department. In addition, he said he has closed his family business of more than 45 years in Cleveland to work full time for the city.
He indicated in his remarks at the council meeting and in an interview with West Life, leaving his council position and his tool and die grinding business is difficult.
“It’s tough to do, but it’s time in both areas,” he said. “I’ve been to thousands of meetings through the years and the business has been winding down, so I’m looking forward to starting a new job.”
Barker was appointed to the Ward 2 seat in 2005 by City Council when former Mayor Thomas O’Grady made Barker’s predecessor, John Dailey, a director in his administration. He then won re-election to the post three times. Prior to that, he started as a volunteer on the community policing committee, then went on to the Community Development Block Grant citizens advisory committee and the Landmarks Commission.
Barker said he will only be a property maintenance inspector for the city.
“I will strictly be an inspector and will be reporting to supervisors,” Barker said.
Annual salary for the position is about $42,000.
Barker said he thought the issues that stand out the most to him during his time on Council were getting city workers to hold back on wage increases and freezing legislative and council salaries during the Great Recession.
“That saved a lot of money which helped in preventing more layoffs,” he said, adding he also is proud of the vicious dog and rental registration legislation passed during his time on Council.
In his remarks to Council, Barker thanked many people.
“I have spent an amazing 11-and-a-half years in this seat, as well as a little more than 10 years previously to that as a volunteer,” he said.
“My involvement with the city I grew up in is because of a young man who came to my door seeking my vote for the office I now hold. We became friends, we ended up working together on Council and I will always appreciate the friendship we have, the mentoring and the guidance he has given me through the years. Thanks, Michael,” he said to former councilman and now law Director Michael Gareau Jr.
He cited developing a close relationship with current mayor and former council president Kevin Kennedy when they both joined Council in 2005, as well as getting friendship, guidance and financial advice from finance Director Carrie Copfer.
He also lauded current Council President and former Ward 4 Councilwoman Nicole Dailey Jones as well as other council members and city officials.
“To my fellow colleagues, this is one of the best councils I have worked with, and I have worked with many in my time up here, and I thank you all for your friendship and respect over these years.
Barker said he is excited about the new opportunity.
“I will bring my passion and my experience to help our great city,” Barker said. “In my many years as a councilman, I have been a strong advocate for property maintenance, I have sponsored and supported legislation to bring property maintenance to the forefront to address our aging commercial and housing properties.”
Kennedy and Jones both said Barker will be missed on Council.
“He has been an excellent councilman for the city,” Kennedy said.
“Paul and I have differing political viewpoints on many things, but we united in our wanting to bring the city forward and make it even better,” she said.