Of all of the candidates running for City Council this fall, there may not be a better bridge that connects the past, present, and future of Portsmouth than Jack Blalock. And there may not be a candidate better than Jack at being able to express his affection for his hometown – through his words, his civic activism, and his ability to connect with people of all types in a warm, personal manner.
Longtime Portsmouth residents will likely be familiar with the deep roots Jack and his family have in Portsmouth. Jack’s father, Dick Blalock, was an institution in Portsmouth, working in the newspaper business. He was the Managing Editor of the Portsmouth Herald for about 20 years in the late 1940s through the late 1960s. He later served two terms as a Portsmouth City Councilor, and was the founder of the Old Ferry Landing restaurant, still around and thriving today under Jack’s leadership. (Here is a fun story about the intersection of the lives of Jack and former Mayor Tom Ferrini and his father, Azio). It is clear when talking with Jack that these roots have helped cultivate his deep love of Portsmouth, and commitment to giving back to our community.
Newer residents, though, may know Jack through other means, also quite civic in nature. While owning and operating Old Ferry Landing, Jack has been engaged as a leader in numerous ways. Few people have spent as much time involved in land-use policy as Jack, who served 15 years on the always-challenging Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), including five years as its Chairman. Despite the potentially contentious nature of many ZBA requests, Jack’s reputation for his temperament and judgement was stellar. His ability to listen, work with members of opposing views, and humanize a process that can be very intimidating made him invaluable to this critical board – and is exactly what our community needs on the City Council.
In 2007, Jack was elected Assistant Mayor, bringing the same skill set to the City Council. He served only one term, going back to concentrate on his business, but continuing to find other ways to serve. He currently is a Director for the Portsmouth Housing Authority Development, Ltd. It is an affiliate of the Portsmouth Housing Authority (PHA) which develops new and expanded housing for low- and moderate-income residents of our community.
As Jack prepares to continue the family tradition of running his very successful restaurant by integrating the next generation of Blalocks into a leadership position, he is now able to again dedicate the time needed to do the job of a city councilor with the vigor and enthusiasm for which he is well-known and respected. The ballot this fall presents voters with a number of candidates that bring diverse experiences to the Council, but a common spirit of collaboration, competence, and commitment to the community. Jack will be an outstanding part of such a Council because we’ve seen him in action in so many ways, for many years, being the example of leadership our community needs.