BY SHERI TRUSTY
In 2001, Marblehead Village Council considered charging a head tax on ferry passengers in an effort to address the village’s financial struggles. The idea was met with much resistance, particularly from Kelleys Island residents who were so angry they threatened to boycott Marblehead businesses if the plan came to fruition.
In the end, the village council didn’t get their tax but instead got a new member of council, John Starcher, who remained in the position until beginning his new role as mayor of Marblehead on Jan. 1.
Back in 2001, Starcher was the owner of a plumbing and heating business which served multiple customers on Kelleys Island. A boycott would hurt his business.
“I kept hearing that from other business owners, too, so we went to a council meeting and begged them not to do it,” Starcher said. “They turned a deaf ear to us.”
Starcher and other business owners collected enough signatures to put the head tax issue on the ballot, and it was shot down by voters.
“I told my wife afterward that I was going to run for council,” Starcher said. “I wanted to be an agent for change.”
Starcher was sworn in as a Marblehead Village Council member in January, 2002, and he held his seat until becoming mayor this month. During his two decades of service to the village, he worked with former mayor, Jacqueline Bird, and the other council members to successfully balance the village budget, pass much-needed levies, and update village operational procedures.
“Every time we asked for a levy, it passed. The community has been very supportive,” Starcher said.
When Bird announced she would not seek reelection last year, Starcher chose to seek the mayor’s seat to ensure their collaborative hard work would be sustained.
“She used to joke that one day I’d have her job, and I always told her no. But when she decided not to run, she and I had a real heart-to-heart talk. She told me I needed to run, and I couldn’t disagree with her,” Starcher said. “I’ve invested a significant portion of my life into this town, and I wanted to see the work we’ve all done continue.”
Looking ahead, Starcher wants to focus on maintaining the work that Bird and the council poured into making the village a great place to live.
“The village has come a long way in 20 years. I want to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said.
Starcher has a strong village council to work with as he leads Marblehead into the future. The village is bound by Ohio Revised Code to maintain a six-member council that is led by the mayor, a seventh member who serves as council president.
“It’s a weak-mayor system, where the council holds more power than the mayor. I don’t vote unless there’s a tie,” Starcher said. “In all her years as mayor, Jackie Bird voted zero times. There was never a tie. That’s how well we work together. I hope that continues through my term.”
Outside of the mayor’s office, Starcher can be found running his business, Starcher’s Village Pro Hardware. He has invested in Ottawa County by serving on the boards of many organizations, including Ottawa County Historical Society, Lakeside Heritage Society, Marblehead Bank and Ottawa County Board of Building Standards Review. He’s also known as the Voice of the Lakers.
“I’m the announcer for Danbury basketball and football games. I’ve done that for over 20 years,” he said. “The most fun part of it is watching the kids develop as players. Most of the kids are just great teammates.”