The Carlisle Borough Council took a timeout at its December meeting to honor one of their own.
That meeting was the last for Perry Heath, who retired from the council after 12 years of service. He was honored during the meeting by his colleagues who presented him with a clock, which Heath quickly, and with a laugh, noted showed the incorrect time.
Heath served as the president of the council from 2012 through 2015. His service on the council has also included chairing the Downtown Improvement District Task Force, the Parks & Recreation Committee, the Police Contract Negotiating Committee, the Economic Development Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee.
He has also served on a number of boards and community organizations through the years.
“I will miss sitting next to you. I make it a point to learn something from everybody that I’ve served with. You’ve taught me to carry myself with dignity and respect, and also to boil down the issues. You’re always very good at that,” Mayor Tim Scott said.
Q. Of the council’s actions during your tenure, which ones are you most proud of?
A. I’m most proud of the work that has occurred and remains to be done for the Urban Redevelopment Plan and the re-use of the former IAC, Carlisle Tire & Wheel and Tyco sites. Rather than have eyesores as blighted properties, the public/private partnerships that have been created and still strive to pursue an awesome vision gives me great pride and satisfaction. Additionally, despite the challenges of the Downtown Improvement District effort, the end result was an aggressive and very successful implementation of downtown economic development goals, objectives and strategies under the leadership of the Downtown Carlisle Association. By virtually all measures, our downtown is thriving with events, activities and opportunities. I’m proud of their accomplishments and the role that council had in supporting the DCA and its mission.
Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a member of the borough council?
A. “You can’t make all the people happy all the time.”
There are limits on resources that preclude us from doing or providing all the things that constituents would like to have and striking the balance between necessary public services (police, fire, public works, water/sewer, etc.) and “quality of life” services (parks, recreation programs, community pool, shade trees, trails, etc.) can be quite challenging. Additionally, being involved in decision-making on an issue that is highly emotional requires a fact based review and perspective that might not be the most “popular” but is truly your conviction and belief.
Q. On the other hand, what is the most rewarding aspect?
A. It is most satisfying to receive validation of our activities and work by third party objective reviewers (among many examples are Government Finance Officers Association, America’s Promise, TIGER Grant award, police department accreditation, water quality testing, etc.) On a personal note, it is gratifying when someone acknowledges the effort you put forth to be an effective councilor regardless of whether they may or may not agree with a given agenda item position.
Q. Who were some of the key people who influenced you or otherwise assisted you during your time on the council?
A. In the end, life is all about relationships, and I have been blessed with a multitude of them from which I have drawn advice, wisdom and consolation. I am forever grateful and indebted to all from whom I have sought or been given advice as there are far too many to specifically mention by name. Key business leaders, educational institution leadership, military personnel, elected leaders at all levels of government, personal friends and acquaintances, partners with whom I teamed to pursue an objective are all among them. But I have truly appreciated the extraordinary, knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated people who are the staff for the borough. Their public service knowledge is incredible. This community is blessed to have the caliber of professionals who we often take for granted who make our town work. I must also acknowledge the flexibility, support and insight provided by my employer (R.S. Mowery & Sons) and especially Don Mowery. Finally, but certainly not least is my wife, Sue, who had many lonely dinners while I attended meetings, listened with compassion as I wrestled with an issue and always encouraged me to serve. Thanks to all.
Q. What advice would you give someone running for public office on the local level?
A. A couple of things come to mind. First, understand what the job is and what it entails before running. It takes time and you must be prepared to dedicate the time if you wish to be effective. Know the roles and responsibilities of the position. A councilor is not a manager — that’s the role of staff. A councilor’s role is to make policy and work toward its implementation. Finally, be respectful of diverse opinions and be prepared for open criticism, fair and unfair. Good luck and best wishes.