Mayor David Roche and President of Council Eloise Henry sign final Richmond Heights council meeting

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio – Delayed for a week due to a lack of quorum on December 21, city council met on Tuesday (December 28) in a meeting that will be remembered as the last for the mayor David Roche and President of the Board Eloise Henry as elected officials.

Roche did not run for office in November and will be replaced on January 1 by current Ward 1 councilor Kim Thomas, who won the city’s first place election on November 2. Henry lost in the election that day to the current Richmond Heights board of directors. Vice President of Education Bobby Jordan, who will start in 2022 as the new chairman of the board.

Roche capped his nearly two decades of elected office with a brief, modest address, which was followed by thanks and praise from board members.

“This will be my last city council meeting as mayor of the city of Richmond Heights,” Roche began. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve our incredible and vibrant community as an elected representative for over 18 years. “

After thanking the board and its staff, Roche went on to say, “Words cannot express my gratitude and we will be proud of all the projects and items we have accomplished over the years. Retirement is meant to be when you stop living at work and start working for a living, so I can’t wait to enjoy my retirement and all the things I still have to do. I wish you all the best for the future here in the city.

73-year-old Roche will probably be best remembered for what he did for the city’s finances, turning a deficit situation into what is now in surplus.

“Thank you for all of your hard work,” Henry told Roche, “and all the great projects you’ve helped us do and all the money you’ve saved us. And for taking us into the green. So thank you very much.

Longtime Ward 4 Councilor Mark Alexander said of Roche: “We might not always agree, but the one thing I always tell people is that the man (Roche ) has the best interests of the city at heart. “

Alexander recounted how he cultivated a long friendship and a long working association with Henry and Roche. “Probably the only thing that stands out is that they both led a time when, in fact, several years ago, we sat in a meeting like this tonight, but we didn’t know. how to pay. And to get that complete, and now you’ve got over $ 6 million in finances, you could say the rainy day fund, that’s a really huge achievement. Few cities know how to change this once this happens. “

The city experienced a number of financial difficulties at the start of the last decade. He had a general obligation debt of $ 10.8 million in 2010 and was facing an expenditure shortfall of nearly $ 1 million in 2013. At the end of 2014, Roche became mayor and chairman of the board Henry, in period of crisis for Richmond Heights. At that time, the former mayor Miesha Headen had been recalled. Roche, then chairman of the board, was appointed mayor and chairman of the board Henry. In September of this year, not only did the city have a cash surplus, it was announced that it would pay off all of its debt soon.

Roche was known for his frugality and often clashed with city managers, and Henry, about when the money should be spent. Some who spoke on Tuesday, while congratulating him, spoke lightly of their disagreements with Roche. General Counsel Todd Hunt joked, “It has been a pleasure to serve you, Eloise. It has not always been a pleasure to serve Mayor Roche, but it has been an honor to serve you.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Hunt continued, “and (Roche) did a great job putting us in the dark, with the advice.”

Hunt also recalled that before Roche was first elected as Ward 3 city councilor, he had spent several years attending council meetings as “the resident gadfly.”

“He attended every meeting and acted like he was a board member,” Hunt said.

Roche responded by saying: “We did a lot of things (when the Roche resident spoke at the council meetings)”. Among those things, Roche said after the meeting was pushing the city to build a sidewalk on Richmond Road next to the Richmond Town Square shopping center property so that a pedestrian crossing can be installed on Richmond Road.

General Councilor Daniel Ursu, who was mayor at the time, mocked the memory of Resident Roche attending these council meetings. It was Ursu, as mayor, who introduced Henry to public office by appointing him to the city’s recreation council. She then served as a representative of Ward 3 council and later as a general representative.

Ward 2 Councilor Frank Lentine, who first served on council from 1978 to 1990, thanked Roche for asking him to get involved again when there was an open council seat, which led to the appointment of Lentine in 2014.

“The word that comes to my mind is ‘congratulations’,” Lentine said, addressing Roche and Henry. “It might sound a little strange, but I think the mayor and the chairman of the council deserve kudos for a job well done. I have learned a lot from you two.

Speaking of Roche and Henry, Lentine said words that came to her mind to describe them. “Commitment, passion, dedication, professionalism, helpful, reliable, respectful, positive and,” he said, “best of the list, stubbornness. You both have a little bit of stubbornness. in you, but it’s a good stubbornness, if there is such a thing.

Henry was known to be tough and speak her mind to board members and Roche while leading the meetings, sometimes to their anger.

Henry said in his brief farewell statement: “I would also like to thank my advice for making all of these things happen because, with the mayor’s help and good advice, this is how we were able to do all of these good things. “

She talked about moving to Richmond Heights in 1996 and, after serving on the recreation council, set out to improve the amenities of the city’s playgrounds.

In recent times, she, Roche and the board have been working on the Belle Oaks Marketplace redevelopment project at the mall site (in 24 new buildings, Roche said it believes the total cost of the project will exceed 300 millions of dollars); construction of the new, state-of-the-art Flexjet global headquarters, currently under construction on Curtiss Wright Parkway; increasing the city’s recreational space to 100 acres (Greenwood Farm has been turned into a municipal park); and other projects.

“Thank you for the opportunity,” said Henry, “but I got the message (about leaving public service). It’s time to mow the lawn.

Henry, who works as a security software engineer, said on October 7, she passed the test to get her real estate license. She said these things would keep her busy.

Roche, a former product development engineer for General Electric who has lived in Richmond Heights since 1976 after growing up in New Hampshire and Maine, plans to stay active. He said he would remain involved in the community through his associations with Friends of Euclid Creek and Greenwood Farm, and by continuing to serve as the local chapter president of the National Association of Societies of ‘investment.

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