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Jeffers leaves Council to focus on family

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: December 26, 2012 12:00 AM

Hudson -- Former Ward 4 Council member John Jeffers will focus on family and philanthropic work after serving more than 9 years on Council.

Jeffers, 76, who resigned from the Ward 4 seat Dec. 11, said he plans to travel, do philanthropic work and focus on his family, which includes his wife, Kathie Murphy Jeffers, four children and three stepchildren, plus eight grandchildren ages 3 to 20.

"We have a rule on Council about missing three meetings in a row," Jeffers said. "I realized I wouldn't be around [to attend meetings]."

A New Yorker by birth, Hudson is like Disneyland to Jeffers, he said.

"It's a wonderful community with wonderful schools," Jeffers said.

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"I don't think there's another place with such high-quality volunteers."

Council members have degrees in law, finance and business, Jeffers noted.

"They lend a lot by their knowledge and background," he said.

Jeffers took courses in municipal law and zoning when he was elected to Council because his background was in trial law and medicine and he wanted to understand city government.

"I think those who serve on Council should take courses," Jeffers said. "I wanted to know what they're [city officials] talking about."

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Council members are paid $10 a month for attending Council workshops and meetings, along with board meetings and answering constituents.

"You better be prepared to give 40 hours a month if you're going to do an appropriate job," Jeffers said.

The city is a business, he said. It runs a water department, electric company, golf course and cemeteries.

"The biggest problem dealing with the public is they have ideas and theories but don't know the history of the facts," Jeffers said.

Residents should serve on Council if they love their city and if they can give something to the city, he said.

The city will accept applications to fill the seat from Ward 4 residents through Jan. 3. Candidates must be Ward 4 residents for two continuous years.

Council will select someone to serve until the November 2013 election. At that time, the city will conduct an open race for the Ward 4 seat, with the winner serving two years to complete Jeffers' term.

Being on Council taught Jeffers many lessons outside his normal realm, he said.

"I learned a lot on Council," Jeffers said. "When you do these things, I don't know who benefits more, me or my constituents."

Jeffers has been a Marine, a lawyer, a Council member and now plans a career in philanthropy.

When the Diocese wanted to close several Catholic Churches in the Cleveland area, his wife fought to keep St. Colman Roman Catholic Church on W. 65th St. open. She wrote the Pope, and he reversed the decision to close the church and several others.

"It's a church in a poor neighborhood that can reach out to the poor," Jeffers said. "I'm hoping to get involved directly with philanthropic organizers."

At large Council member Hal DeSaussure said Jeffers added a lot of color and life to city Council meetings.

"He always had well thought out positions and was a delight to work with on Council," DeSaussure said. "I will be sad to see him go."

Although Ward 3 Council member Alex Kelemen didn't have the history other members had with Jeffers, he said he appreciated his insights.

"He was the senior members of Council and as such, had a lot of history from different groups of Councilmen and gave us his perspective, and I appreciated that."

Another new Council member, Dennis Hanink of Ward 1 said he appreciated Jeffer's insights on various issues, not just the legal ones.

"He was very clear on his points of view and positions," Hanink said. "I liked John very much."

Jeffers encouraged at-large Council member William Wooldredge to join Council.

"I thoroughly enjoy being on Council and always enjoyed John," Wooldredge said. "I always listened to him."

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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