There are no strangers in Marietta's mayoral race as a former mayor and a current city councilman face off in the Nov. 8 general election.
Democrat Joe Matthews, 72, served three terms as mayor between 1992 and 2004 and Republican Jon Grimm, 45, has held the 3rd Ward council seat since he was first elected in 2007.
"I've always had an interest in politics-I even skipped school one time to see Ronald Reagan land at the local airport," Grimm said.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Jon Grimm, Republican candidate for Marietta mayor, assembles a condensing unit Wednesday at Grimm Scientific where he’s current plant manager.
More recently-about five years ago-he took an interest in the televised Marietta City Council sessions.
"I watched every council meeting and would get so upset I'd shout at the television-like I was watching a football game," Grimm recalled. "They were dealing with a lot of issues at the time and I would sometimes get so frustrated I'd think, 'Just let me do it.'"
He got the chance in 2007 after winning his bid for the 3rd Ward council post first time out.
Born and raised in Marietta.
Graduated from Marietta High School in 1985.
Residence: 123 Sunset Drive, Marietta.
Family: Two daughters, Amy, 23, and Michelle, 19.
Career: Served six years in U.S. Navy; 13 years in hotel/motel management; works with family business, Grimm Scientific in Marietta.
JOE A. MATTHEWS
Born and raised in Marietta.
Graduated from Marietta High School in 1956.
Residence: 966 Lancaster St., Marietta.
Family: Married to Sally Matthews for 31 years; three children; four stepchildren; 16 grandchildren; three great grandchildren.
Career: Served 1956-1958 with U.S. Marine Corps; Worked in consumer loan and bank lending industry, and real estate, insurance and securities sales; professional firefighter and emergency medical technician with Marietta Fire Department from 1966-1990.
"I'd never even so much as run for student council in high school," Grimm said.
His decision to run for mayor stems from a desire to see more longterm planning when it comes to expenditures and projects, he said.
Matthews said people regularly ask why, after eight years out of office, he's seeking another term as mayor.
"I tell them I don't like to sit around the house and I'm not a yard man or gardener," he said. "I love to work with people-it's what I've been doing all my life, since I was a 9th-grader in high school."
Matthews literally knows no strangers and it's not unusual-even when he's not campaigning-to see him at a wide variety of local parades and other events, shaking hands and talking with old friends, as well as meeting new folks in town.
On Wednesday, while talking with longtime friend and former city councilman Bob O'Malley near the Ohio River levee, Matthews hailed a couple of Wittenberg University students walking past the Lafayette Hotel and was soon telling them about the Marietta College basketball team's victorious season last year.
"I just enjoy meeting and working with people," he says.
A veteran U.S. Marine, Matthews joined the corps shortly after graduating from Marietta High School in 1956.
"I served two years and spent most of that time with the Marine drill team in Washington, D.C.," he said. "I marched in Dwight D. Eisenhower's inaugural parade. I was also one of 10 Marines chosen to escort Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to church services when they visited D.C.
"I didn't see it that way then, but looking back it was a real honor," Matthews said.
Grimm also has military experience, having spent six years with the U.S. Navy after graduating from Marietta High School in 1985.
"I signed on for three years active and three more years as inactive reserve," he said. "I was serving on the USS Iowa and did a tour in the Persian Gulf around the time of Desert Storm."
Grimm was also aboard the USS Iowa when the ship's gun turret blew up, killing 47 of his shipmates.
"It was the worst peace time accident in U.S. Naval history," he said. "I helped fight the fire and for about 10 minutes I literally thought that was where I was going to die."
After his military service, Grimm worked 13 years in the hotel and restaurant business before joining his father, Joe, in the family business, Grimm Scientific, on Ohio 7 between Marietta and Reno.
Grimm is now plant manager.
"Dad started the company back in the 70s," Grimm said.
Joe Grimm designed a timekeeping device that could be carried on a football referee's belt.
"The Ready Ref is now standard fare across the U.S. for football officials," Grimm said.
Later his father also developed a digital field clock with a wireless connection to the official's Ready Ref device.
That was just the beginning of Grimm Scientific, which now designs and manufactures an array of custom-made sports and sports medical devices, including combination hot and cold therapy whirlpool tubs, paraffin baths, Cryo presses, and other units.
Grimm said the company's major clients are athletic departments as Grimm Scientific is Food and Drug Administration-certified to produce the medical devices.
Like his father, Grimm spends many of his off-hours officiating football games for area schools in the fall.
"It's something I enjoy," he said. "This year all my games are in West Virginia with the LKC (Little Kanawha Conference) teams. But between that, my work, and city council I don't have a lot of spare time left."
Following his Marine Corps service, Matthews returned to Marietta and worked for the Economy Savings and Loan where he became assistant manager before obtaining a position with General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC) in Parkersburg for a couple of years.
"Later I was self-employed in the collection business," he said. "In 1966 I joined the Marietta Fire Department but continued part-time doing collections and other financial work, including working with the Dime Bank."
Matthews also worked part time in real estate for 12 years.
"I retired from the fire department in 1990 and was elected mayor in 1991, then re-elected in 1995 and 1999," he said.
Since leaving office Matthews said he's been doing a lot of volunteer work for a variety of organizations.
"I'm vice president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame and just finished a term as president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 Auxiliary," he said. "I'm also chaplain of the Elks Club 477 in Marietta."
In addition Matthews is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County and serves as treasurer for the Appalachian Development Corporation (parent company of Buckeye Hills Regional Development).