PORTSMOUTH — The student became the master and now the former master could regain his previous role. If you replace master with Portsmouth 3rd Ward Councilman that pretty much describes what could be a post-Nov. 2 future.
With Mayor Kevin Johnson not seeking reelection, his former McKinley Middle School science teacher could be his replacement depending first on how voters place their ballots following the May 4 primary.
Jerry Skiver taught at McKinley and many other schools in his 38 years in education, spending a large portion of his time with Portsmouth City Schools. He led both in his classroom and central office during his tenure and now he is again seeking to lead the 3rd Ward.
Those that have liked Johnson in his near decade on the council can expect much the same with himself, Skiver said, his church and family also core tenets of his life.
“Kevin is a former student and a really good guy,” he said, referring to the mayor as “one of the good ones,” in his sixth-grade classroom. “Now he’s off to the next thing and will spend more time with his family.”
Spending most of his 75 years in the city, Skiver said in a Wednesday interview that he has likely lived in each of the city’s six wards at some point. This is not Skiver’s first political rodeo, running in both 2009 and 2017 council races where he came close in both attempts and lost to Johnson by less than 70 votes in the 2017 General Election.
As a candidate, he wants to bring back the good times of the city’s past.
“If you look at Chillicothe Street, it’s sad to see so many empty storefronts,” he said, recalling the days of his youth when crowds poured into the area. “We have to change and incentivize businesses to come here.”
Those good times were when the shoe factories hummed along and vibrant energy among residents existed more than it does today. Still, the city’s strong points- natural beauty and its people – are very much alive and contributing to what he feels is a re-emergence.
He believes concrete steps like transparent communication between the city and residents and a cautious eye on the budget will only make the comeback a quicker reality.
In its financial decisions, Skiver wants to see the council build more of a relationship with the county as a whole including the Scioto County Commissioners, village and township trustees boards, and Shawnee State University.
Having these partnerships could allow for better service prices for all parties by essentially buying in bulk.
“We have to take a hard look at the fiscal bottom line and do as much as we can with the money we are given,” Skiver said. His experience as a superintendent at St. Marys City Schools in western Ohio taught him that small towns can still have great amenities when its funds are used correctly. “We are fiduciarily responsible to be wise stewards.”
Improving livelihoods is often done through monetary means, Skiver pointing to the work being done on the Master Plan and the turnaround of the Market Square area.
A follower of the latest council happenings, the emphasis of that role he said is to make better for all community members. It’s not a far cry from his career in education, where the teacher learned how to work with people of varying backgrounds and desires.
“It’s all about service and you have to love what you do,” he said. “I always say we have more in common than we do different because we are all working to better the community.”
Skiver married his Glenwood High School sweetheart, Diane, and has four children living and working in Portsmouth, New Boston, Cincinnati, and Fort Lauderdale.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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