BY SHERI TRUSTY
It will be an end of an era in Marblehead when Mayor Jacqueline Bird’s term ends on Dec. 31. Bird is the last in a succession of family members who have faithfully served the village over the last several decades. She has chosen to not seek reelection when her term expires at the end of the year.
Bird’s father, Robert Bird, served on village council from 1952 to 1956 and was mayor of Marblehead from 1956 to 1980. Her brother, Thomas Bird, served on the village’s Board of Public Affairs from 1998 to 2012 and was president of the board when he died in 2012.
She served on village council from 1997 to 2004 and was mayor from 2004 to the present. In total, the Birds served the village for 69 years.
“I’m in my fifth term as mayor. At the end of this year, I will have served as mayor for 20 years,” Bird said. “It’s been wonderful. The village is such a gem. I have been very blessed to serve in this position for so long.”
Bird’s decision to step down was forced by circumstance. In addition to serving as mayor, she has been employed as the director of The Marblehead Bank since 2007, as well as Director of Social Services for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky since 1985. Her position as a state employee qualified her to participate in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS).
As a 38-year state employee, Jacqueline is looking ahead toward retirement. Her original plan was to retire from the Ohio Veterans Home sometime in the next few years but continue on as mayor, if she was reelected in November. But an unexpected legality regarding OPERS and health insurance sideswiped her plans.
“When I talked to OPERS, they said I could retire and run for mayor, but if I got elected again, I would have to pay for my own insurance,” she said.
Bird receives $6,000 annual pay as mayor, and her estimated insurance costs would be more than $13,000 annually.
“I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. I would like to continue, but it’s just not feasible,” she said. “I always wondered when and why I would stop being mayor. OPERS made the decision for me.”
Although Jacqueline has not yet set a date for her retirement, she plans to retire before her next term would end, which would leave the village without an elected leader.
“It wouldn’t be fair to the voters if I had to resign. They need to know who they’re going to have for the full four years,” she said.
As Bird faces her last few months as mayor, she is looking back at the part her family played in the village’s history and the impact she made on the community. Her biggest accomplishments include the village’s purchase of land that became Clemons Park, the merging of the Marblehead and Lakeside fire departments, and the transition of the village clerk job from an elected to an appointed position.
“Marblehead was the first town in Ohio to host an Online Checkbook on its website,” Bird said. “We have been very transparent with everything we do, especially fiscally. I’m very proud of that.”
Bird and her father both held strong commitments to leading the village, but their service never intertwined.
“He was mayor when I was born and all through my childhood, but when I was finally old enough to vote, he didn’t run again,” Bird said. “He passed away in 1996, and he never knew I got involved in the village.”
The village knows, and it is grateful for Jacqueline’s years of impact on the community.