(Posted June 6, 2022)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
After more than two decades of service on the Jefferson Local school board, David Harper is stepping down.
For some, stepping down brings an end to service, but Harper made it clear his “retirement” does not include whiling away the days in a rocking chair. It does allow for more time with his wife of 60 years, Liz, and his family.
“I personally am extremely appreciative of the service of Dave Harper,” said Superintendent William Mullett. “Nobody was more prepared than Dave Harper. There’s a real complexity now with school issues and Dave read everything.
“He always had questions because he wanted to be informed. Dave wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, to have a difference of opinion, and wasn’t afraid to have those kinds of conversations. If you are open-minded, you can have good discussions.”
Harper’s last board meeting is June 13. The process to fill the position started last week. Interested candidates may send a letter of interest and resume to: Supt. William Mullett, Jefferson Local Schools, 906 W. Main St., West Jefferson, OH 43162.
The only requirement for candidacy is district residency. The person chosen to fill the seat will serve through December 2023. Mullett said he expects to start the interview process in a couple of weeks and ideally have someone appointed in August.
Harper will complete his term on the Tolles Career and Technical Center board, which expires at the end of this year.
“Dave loves people and loves kids,” Mullett said. “He wanted people to be successful. He also did a lot behind the scenes like bringing apples to the football team… He will be greatly missed.”
Between his 23 years with Jefferson Local and time spent in Hilliard on the city council, staff and committees, Harper has served the public in one way or another for 52 years. Before he moved to Madison County, he worked for a banking institution and as a volunteer on committees under the mayor and with Hilliard children.
“I served on a city commission before I ran for council,” recalled Harper who, in his first year as a councilman, was elected president.
He used the council opportunity to collaborate with school youth and later turned that into a position as safety director at the request of the mayor to help rebuild the city police department.
“We moved to Madison County 42 years ago and I told my wife I would never get involved in politics again,” said Harper before adding, “but school board isn’t really a political position.
“One day, I was mowing my grass and one of the senior residents of the community came up to me and said they needed someone to run for school board. I told him since it was the last day to sign up, I didn’t have any of the necessary paperwork.”
With mere hours to go before the deadline and a lot of help, Harper filled out the necessary forms, collected the required number of signatures and won a seat on the Jefferson Local board for the first time in 1986.
“My goal has always been to serve God and share that ability in whatever function or position I had, whether working with the city of Hilliard or West Jefferson or the state OSBA (Ohio School Boards Association),” stated Harper. “And I’m not resigning. This is more of a retirement, and I’m still going to be involved with the athletic boosters.
“I’m just stepping down to be more involved with my family and grandchildren. In the time that I have, I will continue to be the person that, if you need something, you can always call on Dave.”