By Kevin Kelley
Daniel Perry, Joseph Quigley and Asahel Porter.
If those three names were a “Jeopardy” answer, the question would be “Who were the first three trustees of Dover Township?”
Those three names are now enshrined on a plaque in the lobby of Westlake City Hall, as are the names of all trustees, clerks, city council members and mayors who served the people of Westlake and Dover, as the community was called before 1940.
Council President Michael Killeen explained that the plaque, which was dedicated prior to Thursday night’s meeting of Westlake City Council, was the legislative body’s specific contribution to Westlake’s bicentennial celebration.
But the actual idea for the plaque came from Denise Rosenbaum, the current clerk of council. Rosenbaum thought a fitting contribution on council’s behalf to the city’s bicentennial celebration would be a compilation of those who have served in government.
Rosenbaum worked on the project for 18 months. The records at the council office only went back to 1910.
“Anything before that, I had to dig for,” Rosenbaum said.
The research was made more difficult by the fact that for a period of 30 years — 1880 to 1910 — practically no records of local officials could be found at all. In addition to visiting to libraries and archives, Rosenbaum consulted cemetery records and chattel mortgages to fill in the missing information.
Rosenbaum also sought out not only former elected officials but relatives of deceased mayors and council members to invite to Thursday night’s dedication.
The plaque displays the names of 100 trustees, 39 clerks, 122 council members and 15 mayors. But Killeen said the work of the city’s numerous employees and volunteers who have served on city commissions is also appreciated.
“Westlake is where it is today because of the collective contribution of all of these people, and every one made a contribution and they should be recognized,” Killeen said.
The council president noted that a major contribution to the city’s success in recent decades has been the establishment of development guidelines, as overseen by the volunteers on the Planning Commission, that govern new construction projects.
“The people of Westlake and Dover is what’s made it great,” Killeen said. “The people there on the plaque tonight just happened to get elected or served as public officials. But this is honoring everyone.”
Mayor Dennis Clough said the plaque reflects the fact that many people have chosen to make contributions to the community.
“It’s not always glamorous to be a public servant,” Clough said. “But, hopefully, the real reason why anyone is involved in public service is to improve the community they serve in, and to serve the citizens they serve, and to make it better for all future generations.”
The trustee form of government ended in 1911 with the incorporation of Dover Village. The first mayor was Frank Bailey; the first council president was James A. Pease. Originally, all council posts were at-large seats. The current system of six wards represented by a council member from each ward began in 1960.