Meet the Mayor: David Collins of Deer Park steers his village through choppy economic waters

DEER PARK, Ohio - How well do you know the top man or woman of your town? Our Wednesday feature introduces you to the people charged with keeping Tri-State municipalities ticking.

David Collins (born June 6, 1947): Deer Park

Elected: Nov. 1999
Population: 5,768
County: Hamilton

Founded: 1912

Claim to fame: Barresi’s Restaurant, started in 1963 as an Italian deli, has transformed into one of Greater Cincinnati area’s better restaurants offering authentic Italian cuisine. Barresi’s is Deer Park’s hidden treasure.

In his own words:

"I believe the city has made steady progress in services, protection and amenities over the past few years. Since money is tight everywhere, we watch our budget with much scrutiny." 

Collins was born in Maryland. He moved to Cincinnati before the eighth grade and attended St. Savior Elementary School and Moeller High School, graduating in 1965.

Married since 1969 to LaVerne Rall, Collins and his wife raised three daughters in Deer Park and now are have six grandchildren.

He first got involved in public service with the Sycamore-Deer Park Jaycees.This was the group that started the Haunted House craze back in the late 1960s in conjunction with WSAI which, at that time, was the number one rock and roll station in Cincinnati.

The group raised tens of thousands of dollars for various charities and causes over the years. In the early 1970s, the Jaycees made a donation to the city of Deer Park to build the Deer Park Community Center.

Some of the members of the Jaycees began to get involved in local politics; including Bob Schuler, Dick Kent, and Denny McKeown, just to name a few.

Collins was originally appointed to Deer Park City Council to fill an unexpired term in Ward 1. He also served as tax commissioner for two years, president of council for 12 years and just finished his 14th year as mayor with two more years left on the current term.

Q&A with Mayor Collins

1. What is the single biggest issue facing Deer Park?

The single biggest issue facing Deer Park is the funding cuts to our local budget. Providing the same levels of services that our community has become accustomed to has been difficult over the past few years, due to the state funding cutbacks.

So far, we have been successful at maintaining all of our services, even though we have had to lay off several employees and make other difficult cuts in spending. We have been successful in drawing new businesses into the city which has helped offset the issue a bit.

2. If someone were to visit Deer Park for the first time, what should they see and do?

They would see a safe, established, family oriented community, with a relaxed atmosphere, that offers affordable housing, great schools and excellent city services.

Right in the center of town, they would find Chamberlin Park, which offers organized sporting opportunities for children and adults alike, along with a walking path that circles the park, five baseball diamonds, a batting cage, tennis courts, playground equipment, picnic shelters and the Francis R. Healy Community Center for group activities.

3. What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor?

Our proudest accomplishment since I have been mayor is our Municipal Building.This building attests to our commitment to the future vision of our comprehensive plan to redevelop our community and ensuring that our motto “the right town for a bright future” remains true.

4. What do you hope is different about Deer Park in ten years?

We have been working diligently to revitalize our central business district.With the recent award of grant funding for this purpose, we will begin to realize the vision and goals of our comprehensive plan.

5. What are your political aspirations?

My political aspirations have always been to provide the best leadership that I am capable of to the city of Deer Park as its mayor.

6. I bet you didn’t know...

Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his Raiders visited Deer Park and stopped at the Schenck family farm (see photo below, courtesy of Deer Park) on the morning of July 14, 1863, looking for food and fresh horses for his troops.

A family member agreed to feed the soldiers, but asked them to remain outside the house warning that there was a sick child suffering with smallpox.

General Morgan agreed and after the woman served them breakfast, the troops left without further incident and without the family’s prized horses, hidden in the parlor.

If you are a local mayor or know one, feel free to contact us! Email: holly.edgell@wcpo.com.

Editor's Note: The original image of the mayor included in this story was erroneous, featuring his brother. Thank you to Angie Collins-Konkle for bringing this error to our attention.

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