Release Date: February 11,2021

Mayor Horrigan Announces Upcoming Cabinet Changes

John Valle is retiring as Director of Neighborhood Assistance; Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance merge leadership structures to enhance efficiency, including new Deputy Director James Aitken

Akron, Ohio, February 11, 2021 — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is announcing upcoming reorganization of existing City departments and changes within his cabinet. These organizational improvements are designed to better coordinate information and enhance the quality of neighborhood services the City provides to its roughly 200,000 residents.  

Effective February 28, 2021, John Valle, Director of Neighborhood Assistance, is retiring from the City after more than 37 years of dedicated public service. Valle started his career with the City of Akron in 1984 when he was elected to serve as the Ward 1 representative to Akron City Council (representing North Hill and portions of Highland Square). Valle then served the citizens of Akron as an At-Large Council representative from 1989 to 2000, including a tenure as Council President from 1996 to 1998.  In 2001, Valle was appointed to the position of Clerk of Council, a position he held for 5 years, until he was selected by then-mayor Don Plusquellic to serve as Deputy Director of Public Service from 2006 to 2012. 

In 2012, Valle was appointed to serve as the City’s first Director of the Department of Neighborhood Assistance. The Department of Neighborhood Assistance currently manages Housing Code Compliance, Nuisance Compliance, the Vacant Building Registry, Community Services, and the Mayor’s 3-1-1 Action Center. Valle also managed the Recreation Division, which was previously part of Neighborhood Assistance prior to integration into the Office of Integrated Development in 2019. 

“John Valle is a highly accessible public servant who has earned the trust, respect, and admiration of residents, City workers, and community partners alike over the course of his distinguished career with the City,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said.  “John is a problem solver who cares deeply about Akron.  He is known for returning phone calls from residents, and is someone who wouldn’t hesitate to personally visit a home or business to address a concern. Under his tenure as Director of Neighborhood Assistance, the City has developed a robust 3-1-1 call center and launched an online portal, created the Vacant Building Registry, partnered with KaBoom to build several new playgrounds, and successfully implemented multi-million dollar federal grants to abate lead paint in Akron homes.  I thank John for his service and wish him and his family the very best in his next chapter.” 

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the residents of the City of Akron the past 37 years,” said Mr. Valle. “I’ve always strived to provide the best customer service possible to our residents and I thank all the City employees who helped me achieve this goal.”

In his retirement, John is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jenee, and their two sons and four grandchildren.

With John Valle’s retirement, Mayor Horrigan is taking steps to better reintegrate the core neighborhood services housed under both the Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance departments.  Mayor Horrigan is aligning the leadership and functions of these offices under a unified team comprised of Director of Public Service Chris Ludle and Deputy Director Eufrancia Lash, who will be assuming the responsibilities of the Director of Neighborhood Assistance. For the last 13 months, Lash has been serving as Deputy Director for both Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance.  His experience with both departments, combined with his career in housing, call center management, and project management, makes Lash well-positioned to take over all responsibilities as the Deputy Director of Public Service – Neighborhood Assistance.

By integrating decision-making, the two departments will be better able to share data, direct resources, and manage services performed in our neighborhoods.

“This unified leadership team is part of my vision to continually improve communication, coordination, and customer experience,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Public Service and Neighborhood Assistance both deliver services that keep our neighborhoods clean and livable. The goal of this integration is to achieve better outcomes for residents by bringing together many of the most important City services under one umbrella.” 

Rounding out the leadership team will be newly-appointed Deputy Director of Public Service – Operations, James Aitken. Jim will be joining Mayor Horrigan’s cabinet after a 34 year career in the City’s Department of Public Service. He began his career as a seasonal sewer maintenance worker in 1986, and was promoted up through the ranks in Sewer Maintenance and Sewer Construction, and eventually to Acting Sewer Superintendent, a position he has held for approximately 7 years.  In this role, Jim manages the day-to-day operations of the City’s sewer collection system (including the sanitary, storm, and combined sewer systems which collect and transport sanitary and combined sewage to the Akron Water Reclamation Facility).  Jim is responsible for overseeing the 50 employees who perform the inspection, cleaning, maintenance and daily operation of 1,346 miles of sewer, 29,580 manholes, 23,365 inlets, 36 pump stations, 6 CSO storage basins, 13 CSO racks and the new Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel completed last year.

“As the City works tirelessly to achieve critically important modifications to the final projects within its federally-mandated consent decree, Jim’s extensive experience and institutional knowledge will be invaluable to our team,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said.

Jim and his wife of 36 years, Maggie, have two adult children and reside in West Akron.