1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
Complete audit of the city’s finances, and a system like WVCheckbook to give residents better information. No tax incentives(or as I like to call them bribes) for new businesses that do not also apply to existing businesses, even if they have no competition. Then we start the budget from ZERO every year.
We need the ability to pay the city’s fees and fines, all online like every other biller or company we are used to working with. That would go a long way in letting business know they won’t need to hire a whole other person just to file all the paperwork. The user fee and other nickel and dime schemes are too little too late to prop up the city government if we drive every prospective business and resident away.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
My neighborhood association group doesn’t have a specific person in the police, fire, or public works department to hear feedback or commentary on what's happening in the area. The communication gap in this city is so large that I can’t remember the last time my councilman even came to a Gallaher Village Neighborhood Association meeting or any of the groups that recently merged to make that new group.
My district is heavily residential, and it only seems like the police or city code enforcement make rounds to harass for the most minimal infractions while we all know what is being dealt and who’s doing it.
The 25705 post office is across from Marcum Terrace, which isn’t itself a negative, but it isn’t convenient for those who drive there or those who even walk around there mostly because THE SIDEWALK IS DESTROYED. The post office is the federal government but those streets and sidewalks are the city's responsibility.
3. Should the city bring back a curbside recycling program? If so, should it be funded with a levy vote or by expanding the county's program?
The trash pickup is the one city service I have heard no complaints about, and if we got that kind of service for recyclables I wouldn't have any issue with implementing. All efforts on this front should be made in conjunction with the county.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
Many professionals commute from outside of the city, where the crime problems are virtually nonexistent compared to Huntington. With that in mind, new housing construction trends follow the “wanting to actually live in Huntington” trends.
We don’t necessarily need new houses to meet all the types of housing demand. The availability of affordable houses is an issue because many older but otherwise fine homes have not been bought and sold over the years, getting renovated in the process and becoming more modernized. When they are left sitting for years, the routine maintenance items go undone, they become dilapidated. This leads to houses even investors won't touch when they go to tax sale, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the demolition tab
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
We should get our act together and integrate cannabis into our medical system, Putnam county just voted to make some strides in that direction.
I do not support the harm reduction program. We pass a health department levy to “support local restaurants” by eliminating fees for inspection, then our streets will get littered with needles from these out-of-town MF’s and people aren’t even fully detoxed before they get released from custody.
People’s aperture when they look at users either puts the addicts in a pit or on a pedestal. It's either “They deserve it, Shoot your local heroin dealer” or “They have an illness, that’s someone’s family member” Neither of which actually solves much. Like most other issues in this city, this is a symptom of larger problems the government can’t solve and usually makes worse: economic opportunity, family traumas, etc.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
My district has dilapidated homes like the rest of the city. The process of demolishing them is ineffective and the reports of them being torn down always seem to include local politicians' names along with how many have been demolished under a certain administration.
There are already existing grants and other programs for those who are having a hardship, in those cases working with the owners is key. We don’t want to trample the rights of the property owners, but we should pursue any legal means to demolish these abandoned, dilapidated properties and consider absentee owners later. This can include putting money into a fund to pay out if there is an overstep. I would much rather have a city full of vacant lots and the courts having an extra load placed on them than dilapidated, dangerous properties.
If the methods to rapidly solve this problem are not legally available, I would personally lobby the State legislature to get the rules sorted out and any funding secured.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
The phrase that stuck with me during the last Marshall career expo was “I will take any internship I can get.” There is a relationship gap between the various players in the economy, and the perception that Huntington is just Marshall and Cabell Huntington will become reality if we don’t leverage what we already have as hard as we can.
Huntington has the same population loss problem the rest of the state has. Marshall University is an inaccessible resource to most of the city and its businesses. Imagine a Green and White cannon shooting the brains of our young people to Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Charlotte while work perfectly suited to them goes undone in the tri-state area.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
A properly managed police department, and a show of force against real crimes would “encourage” that decrease. The national guard was called in because of our crime wave FFS. We don’t need another Shootout at the Hookah Corral because current laws aren’t being enforced. No code enforcement for grass height while someone next door is slinging dope and stealing bikes.
9. Do you think staffing levels for the city’s police and fire departments are adequate, too low or too high? If you think changes are needed, how would you accomplish those?
There aren’t enough police on the streets, and there aren’t enough being budgeted for. We should consider that the police force isn’t even fielding the number of officers budgeted. I wish it were as simple as adding more dollars, but we’ve seen how that works. The Mayor should take a steep cut since he doesn’t manage the city and has a liaison to people he’s too lazy to talk to himself,. The more important civil servants need our focus.
10. The state of WV government recently put all finances and purchases online for the public’s review. Do you support a similar thing happening in Huntington?
Yes. Everyone has an opinion, though it's hard to have an informed one when the best we get is a 50 page document written for accounting and legal compliance not for real public consumption.
Take note of every currently elected official who has not taken action to put such a system in place.
11. How would you address the problem of loose trash and litter in your district?
Many people around Gallaher have stepped up to clean up the trash in the roads and in abandoned lots. The neighborhood associations can do a lot to sort this one out. If there’s an ongoing litter issue, people should be getting assigned large amounts of community service to make up the difference.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in your district? Why or why not?
Many people involved in the process think of rehab houses like real estate investments rather than a step in a medical process. A moratorium should be placed on the number of houses and the inspections should be strict, as the goal should be for the number to start declining rather than finding new residents to prop up the industry.
13. What more could be done to encourage businesses to open in the city?
People want to open their businesses in the same places they actually want to live, work, or at least visit. Almost daily shootings and drug addled vagrants flopping around the streets doesn’t prompt anyone to say “Oh yea, that’s the stuff!” We don’t have the luxury of being attractive to new businesses, we are in damage control mode.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the city’s “Open to All” campaign?
Nothing. It’s a non-issue. I haven’t seen an “Irish need not apply” sign or anything in town to suggest there’s a need for the virtue signal liaison in the mayor’s office or that campaign. Places have to be open before they are “Open to All” and there’s been an excess of “For Sale” or “For Lease” signs on 4th Ave.