By Sue Botos
Growing up in a politically active family, Richard Perk thought this was not the life for him.
“Answering phones for my father in the middle of the night, I thought, ‘This is not for me,’” the Rocky River resident, 50, said in a recent interview. However, the son of former Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk added that “so much going on and so much not going on” in the city’s Ward 4 sparked an interest and his decision to run for that ward’s City Council seat in the Nov. 8 election. The city will hold no primary election this year.
Three of Perk’s brothers have also served in public office including Ralph Jr., a municipal court judge from 1989 to 2003; Thomas, a city councilman in Valley View; and Kenneth, a member of the Cuyahoga Heights Board of Education. Perk is an account executive for Securus Technology, a Texas-based company which provides communication solutions to correctional facilities.
Perk, a 15-year resident of Rocky River, told West Life that two issues are of major concern in the city: empty storefronts and offices along Center Ridge Road, and the maintenance of exceptional city services.
“As you travel up and down Center Ridge, if ‘For Lease’ was a business, we would have 100 percent occupancy,” stated Perk referring to outdated office buildings in need of a makeover. “The key is to make Center Ridge more attractive.” He added that better communication with company owners is needed.
“We need a plan to work with existing businesses, to see what their plans are,” he remarked, saying that this strategy could help prevent more businesses from leaving the city.
“We have to work with (the businesses) and ask what drove them to Westlake,” he stated, referring to companies such as Corporate United, which recently relocated.
Perk continued that the rejuvenation of the Rockport Shopping Center was “the icing on the cake” when it came to his decision to seek a council seat. He envisions an area of possible residences and commercial establishments that would be a walking destination for residents in the southern portion of the city. He said that it “saddened” him to see businesses such as the Earth Fair market choose the Westgate Shopping Center in Fairview Park over Rocky River. Although he feels the city has little opportunity to draw commerce such as American Greetings, the potential for more growth and prosperity exist.
Perk also promised to champion city services.
“No one can match our city services. We need to maintain that level of excellence. My fear is that we’re going to lose services because businesses are leaving and the tax
base is (lessening),” he stated, referring to other cities which have outside contracts for services such as trash pick-up.
Careful balancing of the city budget is also crucial according to Perk, especially in light of the elimination of the estate tax in 2013. “We can’t keep relying on levies,” he stated.
“I will treat the job as a full-time commitment, not just attendance at committee meetings and City Council meetings,” stated Perk. “You won’t get an answering machine, you’ll get me,” he promised. Perk said he will have a website soon, and is planning on several town hall-styled meetings with voters.