ASHLAND -- After 15 years serving Ashland’s Second Ward as a city councilman, Bob M. Valentine (63) will be stepping down from his long-held position.
Due to complications with his health insurance through the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), Valentine decided not to file for re-election. Instead, Jason Chio and Heather Sample will face off in November in hopes of representing the Second Ward.
“I had a great time doing it and I can’t say that in my 15 years I had any regrets,” Valentine said. “I got to work with a lot of great people and serve my community in as best a way that I could.”
One of those great people was interestingly his father, Robert L. Valentine (91), who served on the council alongside him for five years.
“I think their hearts were always in the city, but they weren’t afraid to express different opinions and vote differently depending on what the issue was,” Finance Director Larry Paxton said. “They always did what they thought was the best for their city, and that’s all that citizens can really ask of their elected officials.”
Local government has been something the younger Valentine was surrounded by ever since his youth.
In the 1970s, his father worked as the late Joe Murray’s campaign manager when he ran for state office. Alongside him, he would travel to county fairs and blow up campaign balloons for the children.
“You know my dad was a Republican, and Joe Murray, he was a Democrat,” Valentine said. “Looking back I think that really meant something to me and taught me a lesson about being impartial.”
When he turned 18, his father immediately took him downtown to register to vote. Valentine said that he stressed voting was “the most important thing a person can do for their community.”
His father ran for city council in 2003. After 30 years of teaching, 19 years on the Ashland school board, and multiple terms as county commissioner, he then represented Ashland’s First Ward for two terms beginning in January 2004.
A year later, his son began his own campaign and started representing the Second Ward in January 2006. Valentine Jr. had worked as a bridge inspector for the Ohio Department of transportation for almost 35 years before retiring and beginning his new endeavor.
“I think that he definitely had a part in my decision to run for council,” Valentine said of his father. “I saw how much he cared about this city and I had lived in Ward Two since I was 19 so I thought it would be a good idea to represent it.”
Because the Valentines represented Ward One and Two, they were often able to work together on similar issues without calling a council meeting that would be needed if three or more wards were involved.
While the pair were father and son, they frequently disagreed and held different perspectives on issues.
In the earlier stages of their terms, Valentine said that he reacted more “emotionally” to issues while his father was straightforward and analytical.
“I’m glad I got to work with him because he taught me to take a step back and look at things with a level head,” Valentine said. “When you’re in politics as long as he was, and a teacher and just an all-around knowledgeable man, you have a lot of experience and I recognized that. It was great to work together.”
Beyond city council, the two found ways to work together. For years they played on a church league softball team.
His father pitched, and when he stopped playing at age 60, his son took up the mantle.
In 2017, Valentine went to the hospital to get his shoulder replaced after suffering injuries from extended pitching and found out he also had cardiac issues which led him to getting a double-bypass surgery.
During what he aptly names the “year from hell,” Valentine missed one city council meeting – his only absence in 15 years.
“He really cares about this city and you can tell,” Paxton said.
When Valentine Jr.’s fourth term ends at the conclusion of 2021, he will continue to run his antique shop, South Street Antiques. Just recently the shop celebrated its eighth anniversary.
“I’ve got seven grandkids to spend time with and my wife will keep me busy at the house,” Valentine Jr. said. “I had a blast over the past 15 years, but it’ll be interesting to see some new blood on council.”