Pete Gerken Biography
Lucas County Commissioner
|Pete attended Hall of the Divine Child military boarding school and Rosary Cathedral for grade school and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1969. At Central Catholic High School Pete first showed signs of a political interest: a skilled member of the debate team he excelled at topics related to the current political events of the time. Pete continued his education at University of Detroit Mercy and The University of Toledo, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior in 1991.
Pete’s mother instilled in him a sense of social and political justice, and as a student and young adult he was active in promoting social and political change. While attending University of Detroit Mercy, he marched on Washington DC and participated in a hunger strike in opposition to the Vietnam War. During the 1980’s he stood on the picket lines in solidarity for major UAW and Teamster labor strikes.
Pete started working on the assembly line at Jeep in 1976. He became a union rep for UAW Local 12 in 1985 and worked his way up through union leadership during his 30 years at Jeep, retiring as the Administrator at the National Training Center in Holland.
As a union leader, Pete’s early interest in politics grew. He was appointed to an at-large seat on Toledo City Council 1996 replacing council member Bill Boyle following his retirement. Pete served on Toledo City Council for 8 years and chaired the Environment, Utilities, and Public Service Committee. He was also strongly involved in both Toledo Loves Jeep campaigns. Pete helped the City of Toledo become a leader in the state by passing the first domestic partnership ordinance in the state, the first living wage ordinance in the state, and the first smoking ban in the state. Pete worked with Mayor Jack Ford to create CareNet. He was also a catalyst in the formation of the Toledo and Lucas County storm water utilities and the Northwest Ohio Electric Aggregation Coalition.
Pete Gerken was elected as Lucas County Commissioner in 2005 after beating longtime incumbent Harry Barlos by more than 12 points. Commissioner Gerken has since been overwhelmingly re-elected to office and was recently reelected to a fourth four-year term in 2016. Pete is currently serving as President of the Board of Lucas County Commissioners. He has also served as President of the Board from 2009 to 2013. Currently, Commissioner Gerken serves on the Board of Directors for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). In addition, Commissioner Gerken serves as Chair of both the CCAO Metro Committee and Lucas County Solid Waste District board and is a Member of the Board of Directors for the Lucas County Land Bank, Lucas County Plan Commission, and the Lucas County Investment Advisory Board.
Commissioner Gerken has taken the lead on economic development efforts in the region and his involvement was instrumental in the development of the multi-purpose Huntington Arena in downtown Toledo. He also fought for the creation of the Commissioner's Citizen Levy Review Committee, which has provided a transparent review of tax levies since 2005. Additional policy priorities include solid waste management, public utilities advocacy, and issues of downtown revitalization.
He lives in South Toledo with his wife, Polly. Together, they have four children, Christopher, Joshua, Laura, and Cindy, and one grandchild, Millie.