Randy Berisford is seeking to connect with his potential constituents on the most personal level with face-to-face communication.
He said his initial inspiration to run for the 4th Ward seat came at a recent Wheeling City Council meeting just after a 70 to 80 percent water rate hike was approved to fund a planned $36 million water filtration plant project. He spoke against the hike and was invited to speak with city officials afterward.
He said before the meeting his wife told him, "There's no use in doing this. They're just going to do what they want."
In his conversation after the meeting, Berisford found little satisfaction. He said his wife interjected and told city officials, "I told him there's no use in doing this and you'd just do what you want." He said she received the response, "You're right."
Berisford recalled what Councilman Robert "Herk" Henry said when he voted against the rate increase - that many of his South Wheeling constituents live on fixed incomes and may not be able to adjust to such an increase.
That made Berisford think: Why are residents not more engaged with city officials? Why did only one councilman react to complaints? And why don't council members communicate better with residents?
From the day he filed for election in January, he said, he has spoken to as many of his neighbors as possible, starting with those in the Valley View area of Woodsdale.
He said every resident, when asked, has said they were unhappy with something in the city or shared thoughts on a topic needing improvement.
"I've walked about every inch of this district since I've registered," Berisford said, adding various areas of his ward are "just as bad" as East Wheeling - where the city has been making recent improvement efforts. He said the whole city needs attention.
He said if elected he would plan community forums and town hall meetings where voting matters would be discussed with the public to ensure they understand. He nodded to 6th Ward Councilman Eugene Fahey, who held a town hall meeting to inform residents of the rate hike.
Although he wants to focus on community representation, he said he also wants to find balance in working as a team with other council members, who are trusted to vote in the best interests of their wards. He said this way, there will at least be decisive action on each issue.
Berisford is a lifelong Wheeling resident, having lived in the area since birth. He has two grown daughters and six months ago became a grandfather to a baby girl. With 32 years of work experience, he is now employed with Mull Group of Wheeling as a project design draftsman.