Outgoing Hamilton County Commissioner Victoria Parks has found a new passion: politics. Parks, whose term on commission ends Jan. 2, will run for Cincinnati City Council.
"This has truly been the honor of my life," Parks tells WVXU of her time serving in the seat previously held by her mentor and friend, the late Todd Portune. "I'm sorry I have to step down but I do, but I'm not finished serving, and I believe over at City Hall that they need an organizer, a disciplinarian, somebody with maturity and government experience to work within the 52 neighborhoods in our city and to bring us out of this pandemic, (and) to restore faith in the people who are elected. With my experience, that is what I have to offer."
Parks served as Portune's chief of staff before filling his seat following his retirement in December 2019. He died shortly thereafter in January. Initially a "placeholder," Parks ultimately filled out the rest of Portune's final term. Alicia Reese will be sworn in in January 2021.
Parks admits she was surprised to find how much she enjoyed serving as a county commissioner. The timing didn't work out for her to run to keep her current seat - by the time Portune retired and she took over, it was too late to run for the March primary, had she known she'd want to do so - so she's focusing on Cincinnati Council.
"I never had any intention of serving in an elected seat. I didn't know that I wanted to do this," Parks says. "But with the things that I learned from (Portune) and the fact that he had been out of the office for so long before his illness finally took him, I had been doing the job and I didn't know that I knew so much... and I came to love doing it. I love this, and I want to continue to do it."
The College Hill resident has a varied resume, including serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1976-1980 and working in corporate America for 30 years, she explains. Before joining Portune's staff, she was an executive with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and served as the director of the Women's Crisis Center. She grew up in West College Hill and is a graduate of Aiken High School.
"I'm no longer trying to conquer the world," she says with a smile. "But I want to make my corner of the world a better place."