The Life & Times of Ralph J. Perk
Interviews With Colleagues, Friends and Outside Observers
These interviewees represented a cross section of Cleveland's population in the 1970s. Some were colleagues of Ralph Perk, while others were friends or observers. The common thread found throughout these interviews was that the participants respected Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk and recognized the difficulties he faced as Chief Executive of what was then the 7th largest city in the U.S. Cleveland's diverse population along with its changing economic and social scene required a leader who was diligent and insightful, a person who could meet the many challenges of the day. Mayor Perk's faith in the goodness of the people enabled him to withstand the worst perils.
Please note that we are adding links to the video interviews as they become available. Hyperlinked names indicate that a video interview is available for viewing now.
Akers, Bruce H.- Bruce H. Akers served the Perk Administration first as Special Executive Assistant (1975-76) and then as Chief of Staff (1976-77). He also served on the Pepper Pike City Council for many years (1971-75, 1979-91). Mr. Akers further distinguished himself as that city's mayor (1991-2011). A retired Vice President of Civic Affairs at Key Bank, he volunteers for many civic and community organizations including Park Works and Opera Cleveland. Mr. Akers, as a member of the Cuyahoga County Government Reform Commission, played a decisive role in reorganizing the county's government.
Bennett, Robert T.- Robert T. Bennett served as Perk's campaign manager in the 1971 mayoral elections. He was also one of the mayor's closest advisors. Prior to joining Perk's team, Mr. Bennett was the campaign manager for U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. Mr. Bennett began his career in the Cleveland accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst. He later became a partner in the Cleveland law firm of Bennett & Harbarger. Mr. Bennett served as Strongsville Finance Director. A respected political strategist, he played a crucial role in orchestrating the resurgence of the Ohio Republican Party in the 1980s. Mr. Bennett co-chaired the Cuyahoga County Republican Party (1974-88) and headed the Ohio Republican Party (1988-2009). He has been a voting member of the Republican National Committee since 1988.
Blazey, Valerie Schwonek- Valerie Schwonek Blazey is the daughter of one of the mayor's closest friends. She first became interested in public service when she worked on Perk's Advance Team (1969). She later volunteered in the mayoral campaign. Her public service career began as Assistant Cuyahoga County Auditor (1969-75). Ms. Blazey then was on the Cleveland Board of Appeals and Zoning (1975-90). She also assisted Cuyahoga County Commissioner Vincent C. Campanella (1981-85) and served as a Consultant to the Greater Cleveland Growth Association-Government and County Affairs Committee (1985-88). Ms. Blazey chaired the Cleveland Board of Appeals and Zoning (1990-96). She is serving currently as the Corresponding Secretary for the American Nationalities Movement, a nationally-recognized organization dedicated to fighting repressive governments worldwide through special lobbying efforts.
Boylan, Richard L.- Richard L. Boylan served the Perk Administration as Director of the LEAA Impact Cities Crime Prevention Program (1973-75) and as Interim Director of the Cleveland Workhouse (1974). Mr. Boylan and Cleveland's Safety Director James T. Carney established the nation's first Emergency Services System in Cleveland (1974). He also served as a Special Law Enforcement Advisor (1975). Previously, Mr. Boylan had been Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio. He also worked in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Boylan left public service in 1975 to return to his private law practice. He is currently the President of RLB Group Inc, a special lobbyist group located in Columbus, Ohio.
Campanella, Vincent C.- Vincent C. Campanella, a close friend and advisor to the mayor, served the Perk Administration first as Director of the Office of Budget and Management (1971-76) and then as the city's Law Director (1976-77). Previously, he was the Deputy Cuyahoga County Auditor (1963-67). After Perk's defeat in the 1977 primaries, Mr. Campanella was elected Cuyahoga County Auditor (1977-80) and then Cuyahoga County Commissioner (1981-85). After leaving public service, he became a consultant for one of this nation's largest accounting firms Leventhol & Horwath (1985-90). Mr. Campanella established in 1990 his own consulting firm. Known as Orion, it focused on health-care issues. He sold it in 1999 in order to pursue other business and philanthropic opportunities.
Climaco, Michael L. - Michael L. Climaco first met the mayor in 1971 when both were seeking public office. A leader in Cleveland City Council (1972-76), Mr. Climaco worked with the Perk Administration on many crucial issues. He also served as Majority Whip in Cleveland City Council (1973-76). Mr. Climaco co-chaired the Cuyahoga Democratic Party (1974-78) and chaired the Board of Trustees at Cleveland State University (2002-03). He also chaired the American Committee on Italian Migration and serves as a Justinian Forum trustee. He has been Special Counsel to four Ohio Attorney Generals, Cuyahoga County prosecutors and the Ohio Auditor. Mr. Climaco is Counsel for the Cleveland law firm of Tucker Ellis & West.
Drake, Ohio Senator Grace L.- Grace L. Drake served in the Ohio Senate from 1984 until 2001. Term limits forced her to step down in 2001. She served on the Ohio Women's Policy & Research Commission, the Ohio Care & Welfare Reform Committee and the Medicaid Long-Term Care Reimbursement Committee. While in office, she supported major educational funding increases totaling $3b. The OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environment Sciences in 2003 named its new research facility "The Grace L. Drake Agricultural Laboratory." She chairs the Executive Committee of the Republican Party and was inducted into the Cuyahoga County Republican Party Hall of Fame Class of 2004. Senator Drake is Executive-in-Residence at Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs and Director of the Ohio Center for the Advancement of Women in Public Service.
Driscoll, Mark L.- Mark L. Driscoll served the Perk Administration first as Assistant Director of the Office of Budget & Management (1971-76) and then as its Director (1976-77). After Perk's defeat in the 1977 primaries, Mr. Driscoll worked in the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney (1977-81). He later served as the Director and Fiscal Officer of the Cuyahoga County Office of Budget & Management (OBM). His business ventures include the following: M.J. Financial Services, a firm dedicated to estate and finance planning and Driscoll Distributors, a company that promotes health and wellness through the use of natural products.
Forbes, George L.- George L. Forbes was President of Cleveland City Council during the Perk Administration. A close personal and professional friend of the mayor, Mr. Forbes served as Council President for fifteen years. He was born in Memphis, TN and served a tour in the U.S. Marines in the early 1950s. After receiving a B.A. from Baldwin Wallace College in 1957 and a J.D. from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1961, Mr. Forbes practiced law. In 1963, he was elected to Cleveland City Council from Ward 27. He served in Cleveland City Council from 1974 to 1989. In 1992, he was elected President of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP. Three years later, Mr. Forbes was appointed to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and served on its Oversight Committee. In 2009, the NAACP awarded him its highest award for Meritorious Service. A semi retired lawyer, Mr. Forbes is a part of the law firm of Forbes, Fields and Associates.
Foster, James H. - James H. Foster first met the mayor in 1973. A major political controversy involving whether the City of Cleveland should maintain its present council size or reduce it brought them together. Mr. Foster representing the Citizens League believed that council's size should be reduced as soon as possible. Mayor Perk agreed with his findings. Impressed by the mayor's leadership abilities and determination, Mr. Foster joined the mayor's 1974 U.S. Senate campaign as Communications Director. Traveling many hours with the mayor gave him a special appreciation of the many difficulties facing candidates that seek office statewide and how Perk's extraordinary faith in the people enabled him to withstand the grueling pace of such campaigning. Mr. Foster later served as Vice-President C.K. Newcomb & Associates, a production and marketing company dedicated to air shows and aviation events (1979-91). He is the Executive Director of the City Club of Cleveland.
Francioli, Vincent - Vincent Francioli, a highly respected leader within Cleveland's Italian community, first met the mayor in the early 1960s when both were seeking public office. Mr. Francioli served the Perk Administration first as Executive Secretary of the city's Civil Service Commission (1974-75) and then as Project Director for the federally-funded CETA Program (1975-77). He later became an intermediary and program coordinator for Cuyahoga County Youth Services (1982-87). Pride of country led him to develop a special Color-Guard for veterans who were regulars in the local Republican Party. Mr. Francioli is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and serves as the Early Settlers Association's Finance Director.
Ganim, Richard A.- Richard A. Ganim, a close friend of the mayor, campaigned twice for Ralph Perk: first for Cuyahoga County Auditor and then for Cleveland Mayor. Of Lebanese descent, Mr. Ganim has fought discrimination against Arab-Americans for many years. His efforts led to the creation of the Cleveland American Middle East Organization in 1970. He served first on Seven Hills City Council (1967-71) and then as that city's Finance Director (1971-73). Mr. Ganim won the mayoral election in 1973. He served two terms as Seven Hills Mayor. He was also the Secretary and Manager of Ganim Brothers Inc., a well-known local automotive service center. Mayor Perk awarded him the "Keys to the City" in 1973 and he was named "The Lebanese Man of the Year" two years later.
Gaskill, William S.- William S. Gaskill began his public service career as Administrative Assistant to the East Cleveland City Manager (1963-64) and then as his Executive Assistant (1964-68). He became that community's Vice City Manager and Community Development Director in 1968 and then City Manager in 1969. Mr. Gaskill left East Cleveland in 1970 to become Cleveland's Public Utilities Director. Following a stint as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Mayor of Washington, D.C. (1971-73), Mr. Gaskill became Cuyahoga County Administrator. He left that post in 1980 to become the Federation for Community Planning Director. Later that same year, he became the Administrative Director of the local law firm of Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. Now retired, he is involved in many activities. He is currently the Chairman of the Metro Health System Board. As Cuyahoga County Administrator he worked very closely with the Perk Administration on many sensitive issues such as the Cuyahoga County Justice Center and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
Gibans, Nina F.- Nina F. Gibans was the Executive Director of the Cleveland Area Arts Council (CAAC) in the mid-1970s. The CAAC dedicated itself to promoting the arts throughout Greater Cleveland. Ms. Gibans provided technical assistance to the Summer Arts Program of 1977, a CETA initiative geared for the city’s youth.
Ms. Gibans attended Wellesley College. She received her Undergraduate Degree in Art, Music and Literature from Sarah Lawrence College and her Master’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University in Aesthetics and Art History. A nationally recognized author, poet, film producer and teacher, Ms. Gibans has served on numerous prestigious boards and panels. In 2000, she received the distinguished Alumni Award from the Laurel School.
Haddad, Philip - Phillip Haddad began his public service career with the Perk Administration in the early 1970s. Mr. Haddad advanced quickly to become Cleveland's Labor Relations Manager. His job responsibilities included collecting union contracts (memorandums of understanding) from different city departments and creating strong liaisons with labor unions. Ohio Governor George Voinovich appointed him the first Executive Director of the newly created Ohio Industrial Commission in 1997. He now serves as a Labor Relations Officer for Human Resources City of Cleveland. Mr. Haddad greatly admired the mayor for the important role he played in consolidating Labor Relations activities and programs. Placed under-one roof and headed by an Executive Assistant, this consolidation effort not only encouraged greater efficiency within the work place, but also, fostered a new sense of purpose among its employees.
Hollington, Richard R. Jr.- Richard R. Hollington Jr. served the Perk Administration first as the city's Law Director (1971-72), then as a major board member of the Cleveland Regional Sewer District (1973) and finally as Special Counsel to the City of Cleveland (1974-76). A senior partner in the Cleveland law firm of Baker & Hostetler, Mr. Hollington was elected twice to the Ohio House of Representatives starting in 1967. State officials appointed him to serve out the unexpired term of House Representative Matt Dolan of Russell Township in the Ohio Assembly in 2010. He was the Finance Director of Hunting Valley, Ohio. In November 2011 Hunting Valley voters elected him mayor. Mr. Hollington has served on numerous boards including the City Club Forum Foundation Board of Directors and the University of Findlay Board of Trustees. He is also a Cleveland Metropolitan-Bar Foundation Fellow.
Holzer, Josef- Josef Holzer and the mayor both worked diligently to promote Cleveland's ethnic heritage. Born in Apatin-on-the-Danube, Mr. Holzer came to Cleveland in 1952. He worked over 35 years as an electrician for Ford Motor Company. Mr. Holzer joined the Society of the Danube in 1958 and became its president in 1966. He held that post in that organization for thirty years. Mr. Holzer played a crucial role in the 1980s building the Donauschwaben German-American Cultural Center in Olmsted Falls. He most admired the mayor for his honesty and integrity.
Horvath, Richard F.- Richard F. Horvath began his legal career with the City of Cleveland during the Perk Administration. Originally working as a law clerk, he began as an Assistant Law Director (1977-86) and then as Chief Assistant Law Director (1986-88). He has served as Chief Corporate Counsel since 1988.
Krumholz, Norman- Norman Krumholz served the Perk Administration as the city's Planning Director (1969-79). Prior to that time, he served as a planning practioner in Ithaca and Pittsburgh. A nationally honored and respected urban planner and scholar, Mr. Krumholz was president of both the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has written several books and numerous articles. Mr. Krumholz has also received numerous awards and citations including the Prize of Rome and the APA Award for Distinguished Leadership. He is an AICP Fellow. Mr. Krumholz is a Professor at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
Larkin, Brent- Brent Larkin began his newspaper career with The Cleveland Press as its city hall reporter (1971-76) and then as its politics editor (1976-81). He joined The Plain Dealer in 1981 where he gained acclaim as a politics writer and columnist. Mr. Larkin's insight into people and local politics gained him a well-earned national reputation. He served as The Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Page Editor for 18 years beginning in 1991. Mr. Larkin writes a column for the Forum Section of The Sunday Plain Dealer. The Cleveland Press Club's Hall of Fame inducted him into the 2002 Class. A Cleveland Magazine article once described him as "the city's last big power broker journalist, the last guy who single-handedly pens the town's conventional wisdom."
Machaskee, Alex- Alex Machaskee was a colleague and close friend of the mayor. He grew up in Warren, Ohio. After a stint as a Warren Tribune reporter, Mr. Machaskee joined The Plain Dealer in 1960. He became its Vice President & General Manager (1985-90) and then CEO, President and Publisher (1990-2006). Mr. Machaskee is the President of Alex Machaskee & Associates, a communication public relations firm. He supports numerous charities and religious organizations including United Way Services and International Orthodox Christian Charities. Mr. Machaskee received the Whitney M. Young Humanitarian Award from the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and the Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award from Inside Business magazine. He was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame Class of 2006 and the Cleveland International Hall of Fame Class of 2010. He also received in 1999 the highly prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition Organization. Mr. Machaskee is an Honorary Consul to the Republic of Serbia and chairs the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.
Mariani, Joyce A.- Joyce A. Mariani was a close friend of the mayor. A highly accomplished soprano opera singer, who studied at the Cleveland Music School Settlement, Ms. Mariana lived in Italy for several years where she performed with some of the world's most prestigious opera companies including the Lyric Opera Company. She also performed with the National Orchestra of Italy and the Orchestra of Accademia de Santa Cecilia. Ms. Mariani is the Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation and Director of the Cleveland Italian Film Festival. In 2008 she received the "Italian Heritage Award" for her many outstanding contributions to Cleveland's Italian community. Ms. Mariani also developed "Opera in the Garden" an annual outdoor event held at the Italian Gardens at Rockefeller Park. She is an influential board member of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation.
Marks, Jeffrey B.- Jeffrey B. Marks has been an Assistant Law Director City of Cleveland since 1969. Since 1971, he has served both as the Secretary for the Board of Control City of Cleveland and as Legal Counsel for the Cuyahoga County Relations Board. A well respected attorney and community activist, Mr. Marks was the Ludlow Community Association President (1973-74) and played an active role in the Shaker Heights Charter Review Commission. He also served on a number of other boards including the Friends of Shaker Square and the East End Neighborhood House.
Morrow, Irene M.- Irene M. Morrow was a close personal friend and political advisor to the mayor. She served the Perk Administration first as an Administrative Assistant in the city's Human Resources and Economic Development department and then as the Personnel Administrator and Secretary of the Cleveland Civil Service Commission. Mr. Morrow became the Executive Secretary of the Association of Polish Women in 1975. She has been a member of the Republican Party Executive Committee for the past thirty years.
A highly respected leader, Ms. Morrow has received numerous awards and honors including being named "The Person of the Year" by the Polonia Foundation. First Lady Barbara Bush named her one of the forty outstanding Ohio Women Achievers. Ms. Morrow was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame Class of 2010. Her dedication to the American Nationalities Movement is well-known throughout the community. She served as that organization's Executive Secretary and Treasurer for nearly 25-years before assuming the duties of president in 1999 following the untimely death of the group's founder and president, Ralph J. Perk. She served as that organization's president for the next twelve years.
Watch another video with Irene M. Morrow, Ralph J. Perk, Jr., and Henry A. Watroba interviewed together.
Oakar, Mary Rose- Mary Rose Oakar began her public service career in Cleveland City Council (1973-76) where she worked very closely with the Perk Administration on several key issues. She respected the mayor's courage especially during the 1970s a time of great economic and social uncertainty. Ms. Oakar later served as a high ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1977-92) and with distinction in the Ohio House of Representatives (2002-04). Of Lebanese and Syrian descent, Ms. Oakar spends much of her time defending Arab-American causes. She has served as President of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an organization dedicated to empowering Arab-Americans, protecting their legal rights and promoting their cultural values.
O'Donnell, Justice Terrence- Justice Terrence O'Donnell began his public service career campaigning for the mayor in the 1970s. He began his legal career in 1971 by clerking at the Ohio Supreme Court. He then practiced law at the firm of Marshman, Snyder & Corrigan. Appointed in 1980 to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas by Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Justice O'Donnell won the following election in 1982. He remained at Common Pleas until 1994 when he was elected to the 8th District Court of Appeals. Justice O'Donnell won election in 2003 to the Ohio Supreme Court. His efforts to increase professionalism among Ohio attorneys and judges resulted in the nationally-recognized Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program. He also participated in a University of South Carolina Forum on professionalism and mentoring. Justice O'Donnell has received numerous awards and citations including the Cleveland State University Distinguished Alumni Award and the Jurisprudence Award from the American ORT Cleveland Chapter. He also is a valued trustee of the Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Cleveland.
Perk, Ralph J. Jr.- Ralph J. Perk Jr., the mayor's second oldest child, began his public service career in Cleveland City Council (1966-76). He later served as an Administrative Auditor Ohio Bureau of Employment Services (OBES). Mr. Perk was appointed to the Cuyahoga County Board of Revisions in 1979. He was also a law partner in the firm of Perk & Miller (1983-91). Mr. Perk was elected to the Cleveland School Board in 1984. He held that post for seven years and was its president in 1985 and again in 1989. Mr. Perk won election to the Cleveland Municipal Court in 1989. He served for the next fourteen years. Mr. Perk still serves on the bench part-time. He became the President of the American Nationalities Movement in 2011.
Watch another video with Irene M. Morrow, Ralph J. Perk, Jr., and Henry A. Watroba interviewed together.
Petro, James M.- James Petro, a close friend and early campaign worker of the mayor, began his public service career in Rocky River City Council (1977-80) and as that city's Assistant Law Director. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives (1980-84) followed by a stint as President of the Cuyahoga County Commissioners. Mr. Petro was elected to statewide office beginning in 1994. He served first as Ohio Auditor (1994-2002) and then as Attorney General for the State of Ohio (2002-10). The Cuyahoga County Republican Party inducted him into its Hall of Fame Class of 2006. Mr. Petro is currently the Chancellor of the University Systems of Ohio.
Pianka, Judge Raymond L.- Judge Raymond L. Pianka, a close friend and political ally of the mayor, began his public service career in Cleveland City Council (1985-95). While in council he chaired both the Community & Economic Committee and the Legislative Committee. In 1996, Judge Pianka won election to the Cleveland Municipal Court where he serves as a Housing Division judge. A highly respected reformer, Judge Pianka introduced the Court's Warrant Capias Program (1996) and the Selective Intervention Program (1998). Recently, Judge Pianka has gained national attention for his fight against irresponsible landowners by criminally prosecuting corporations whose large inventories of properties violate local housing codes.
Pogue, Richard W.- Richard W. Pogue began his legal career in the early 1950s in the Patents Division Office of the Judge Advocate General Department of the Army (Pentagon). In 1957 he joined the Cleveland law firm of Jones Day Reavis & Pogue eventually becoming its Managing Partner. Mr. Pogue supports numerous cultural and non-profit organizations including the Gordon Square Arts District and the Cleveland Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame. He also served as a Visiting Professor of Law University of Michigan Law School and Trustee Cleveland City Club Forum Foundation. Mr. Pogue chaired the Cleveland Campaign for United Way Services in 1989. He also chaired the Finance Committee Cuyahoga County Republican Party (2007-09). In 2005 he was inducted into the Cuyahoga County Republican Party Hall of Fame.
Przybojewski, Frank- Frank Przybojewski met the mayor in 1975 while attending a Republican Party Nationalities Conference in Washington, D.C. He served the Perk Administration as Assistant Director of the Mayor's Office of Nationalities (1975-77). His job responsibilities included the following: writing speeches for the mayor, solving nationality problems and assisting in nationality functions. Mr. Przybojewski also has worked as a medical laboratory technician and has been the Principal at All Saints School and at Jesus & Mary School. While at Jesus & Mary School, he ministered to the families and students in Cleveland's Slavic Village. Mr. Przybojewski is currently the Principal of the St. Clare School. He is an active member of both the American Nationalities Movement and the National Catholic Educational Association.
Pust, Dr. August B.- Dr. August B. Pust, a colleague and friend of the mayor, served the Perk Administration by updating the city's civil service exam procedures. Migrating from Slovenia, Dr. Pust wanted to serve the people of Cleveland. After the mayor's defeat in the 1977 primaries, Dr Pust continued to work in the city's Civil Service Commission. He served as Executive Assistant for Ethnic Affairs and International Affairs under Mayors George Voinovich and Michael White. In 1991, Dr. Pust became the Director of Multicultural Affairs & International Relations Governor's Office, State of Ohio a post he held for eleven years.
He has received numerous awards including being named the Slovenian Man of the Year in 2008. President George W. Bush named him to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad in 2001. He received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2008. He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Rus, Dr. Vladimir J.- Dr. Vladimir J. Rus, a close personal friend and advisor to the mayor, served the Perk Administration first as Director of the Cleveland Area Manpower Planning Council (1971-74) and then as Director of Human Resources and Economic Development (1974-77). Migrating from Slovenia in the early 1950s, Dr. Rus taught Slavic Languages at Cleveland State University and the Russian Language at Case Western Reserve University. He also served as a Cuyahoga Community College Administrator. He is well known for his insightful and interesting lectures and writings on his native Slovenia. A founder of the Slovenian American Heritage Foundation, Dr. Rus was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Currently, he is the Executive Secretary of the American Nationalities Movement. Dr. Rus also serves on several boards including the Idea Center at Playhouse Square.
Russo, Basil M. - Basil M. Russo, a powerful leader in Cleveland City Council (1971-79), worked closely with the Perk Administration. He served as Majority Leader in city council (1977-79). Mr. Russo worked diligently in 1975 for the mayor's re-election. He respected Perk for "his honesty and concern for the common man." Mr. Russo later served on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and the 8th District Court of Appeals. He also distinguished himself as Special Counsel to the Attorney General for the State of Ohio. Mr. Russo currently serves as the managing partner for the local law firm of Russo, Rosalina & Company. He is active in many local organizations including the Italian Sons & Daughters of America.
Rybka, Edward W.- Edward W. Rybka was a close friend and political ally of the mayor. He began his public service career in Cleveland City Council (1985-95). As Director of the city's Building & Housing Department, Mr. Rybka oversees 175 employees and has an operating budget of $11m. A highly respected leader, he has worked with numerous business and civic groups to improve the quality of life for all Clevelanders. Mr. Rybka has also chaired the Slavic Village Association and served as the President of the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan.
Sweeney, Patrick A.- Patrick A. Sweeney, a prominent leader in the Ohio House of Representatives (1967-97), worked very closely with the Perk Administration on many crucial issues. Mr. Sweeney respected the mayor for his political resourcefulness in tough times. Mr. Sweeney also served in the Ohio State Senate (1997-98). He is President of PASCO Consultants, a public policy group and Director of the Ohio Institute of Public Service. He is Chief Senior Advisor Office of Government Relations at Cleveland State University.
Szmagala, Taras G.- Taras G. Szmagala was colleague and close friend of the mayor. Born and raised on Cleveland's West Side, he is an important leader within the Ukrainian community. Mr. Szmagala worked for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Association (RTA). He was its Communication Manager, Acting Director and Executive Director of External Affairs. President Reagan in 1982 appointed him to the National Highway Safety Advisory Board. He also served on a special delegation that President George H.W. Bush sent to the Ukraine in 1991. Mr. Szmagala is the Executive Director and Vice-Chairman of the Ukrainian Museum Archives. He is Vice-President of the American Nationalities Movement.
Townsend, Robert C. II - Robert C. Townsend II was a colleague and friend of Mayor Perk and his family. Mr. Townsend served as Deputy Court Administrator and Chief Bailiff for Cleveland Municipal Court (1971 to 2001). He is currently the President of Townsend Ventures, a business, civic and educational consulting firm. He served as President Oakwood Village Council, Board Chairman Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and President Cleveland Civil Service Credit Union. He also was a Trustee-Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Co-Organizer 4th District Community Relations Committee-Cleveland Police Department, Vice-President NAACP and Member of the Executive Committee-Federation for Community Planning.
Voinovich, U.S. Senator George V.- U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich was both a close friend and political ally of the mayor. Senator Voinovich began his public service career in the Ohio House of Representatives (1967-71). He was elected Cuyahoga County Auditor in 1971 and Cuyahoga County Commissioner in 1977. The following year Senator Voinovich was elected Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and then Cleveland Mayor. He served as Cleveland Mayor from 1980 to 1989. In 1990 he ran successfully for Ohio Governor and won the U.S. Senate seat in 1998. He represented the citizens of Ohio in the U.S. Senate until his announced retirement in 2010. Senator Voinovich currently serves as an advisor and consultant at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs Ohio University.
Watroba, Henry A.- Henry A. Watroba was a friend and neighbor of the mayor. Both were very active in the Knights of Columbus. Mr. Watroba campaigned for Perk twice: first when he ran for Cleveland City Council and later for Cuyahoga County Auditor. Mr. Watroba worked for the city as both a plumbing inspector and foreman (1972-89).