The fact Akron Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth planned to retire this year was no secret.
He had been telling colleagues and reporters he was going to step down for months. The only question was when.
Lieberth made that known Tuesday morning with a message he posted on Facebook and blasted out by email, saying he would retire effective Dec. 1.
“Other creative pursuits await — nothing definite — but there will be more writing, thinking, sleeping, and speaking in days ahead. Not necessarily in that order,” Lieberth wrote in his message.
Lieberth, 65, has been the city’s deputy mayor of administration/chief of staff for 10 years, earning about $122,800 a year. Before that, he was a journalist, attorney and private mediator.
Mayor Don Plusquellic said Lieberth, whom he tried to recruit for some time before he joined his staff, will be missed.
He said he asked Lieberth when he started his job to take on the “warm and fuzzy side” of downtown development — lining up events to draw people into downtown. He said Lieberth took the project and ran with it, helping to cultivate the Lock 3 and Lock 4 activities that draw thousands of people downtown.
“What he has done at Lock 3 has been tremendous,” Plusquellic said. “He’s responsible for the success at Lock 3 and Lock 4. That is a benefit to the overall community.”
Plusquellic said Lieberth, who is known for arriving early in the morning and working weekends to oversee downtown events, also was great at signing checks, writing letters and in general just keeping the office business moving.
“He’s brought a lot to this office,” Plusquellic said. “I will miss the opportunity to regularly converse with him. I’m sure we’ll be in contact and that he will be helpful in other ways in the community.”
Lieberth said he wants to retire now because he’s healthy and energetic and “there’s stuff I want to do.” He said he doesn’t know what that “stuff” might involve.
“There are creative projects I want to be involved in,” he said. “I don’t have all the arrangements. I have time. I don’t need to do it right now.”
Leaving in early December means the summer season of Lock 3 will be finished and most of the planning and preparations for the winter season will be complete. Lieberth attended a meeting Tuesday morning about the plans to bring Archie the Snowman to Lock 3 this year.
Lieberth said he isn’t sure who will take over his downtown duties and will be figuring that out over the next three months. He said Suzie Graham, who formerly worked for Akron and now heads the Downtown Akron Partnership, might assume some of the tasks, but some still will need city oversight.
He will emcee events this weekend at Lock 3 that celebrate the 10th season at the downtown venue.
Lieberth has been considered as Akron’s honorary historian. He recalled that when former Mayor John Ballard hired a chief of staff way back when, Lieberth was a radio reporter covering Akron City Hall.
There were no details Tuesday about whether Plusquellic will replace Lieberth. The city traditionally has employed a chief of staff.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmith.