The race is on for a council seat in Wheeling's 5th Ward, which encompasses Edgwood, Pleasant Valley, Dimmeydale, Oakmont, Parkview and Springdale. It includes the incumbent and three challengers - all with ideas for building on the positive aspects of the Friendly City.
The candidates are incumbent Don Atkinson, Lloyd Adams, Robert Boord and Perry Napier.
- Atkinson, an employee at Ace Garage in Wheeling, said, "The issue that most interests me personally is the vacant and abandoned buildings, and that we are doing something about it. As the vice chair of the Rules Committee, we have implemented stricter rules and higher fees to help combat the property owners that do not care about their property or the neighbors around them."
He also said quality of water is a main issue and noted he and the current council have taken steps to "bring our water up to federal standards and make the water the best that it can be for the citizens now and for our citizens well into the future."
Atkinson said a third issue is keeping finances in check. He also believes despite a loss of population, the city is safe, well maintained and easy to get around.
"The city is very old and, over the years, has not been updated as it should," he said. "Well, now we have a council that can see the real need for major updates. The new water plant, for instance, to ensure safe drinking water for years to come."
Atkinson said the role of a council member "is to make sure the city services, safety and well-being of the 5th Ward is being looked after."
"The 5th Ward has many issues, but the most requested is street paving and safety," he said. "We have one of the best public works departments, along with one of the best police and fire departments, anywhere."
- Adams, former public works direction for the city and retired state highways department employee, believes council's three main issues are controlling costs while maintaining wages and benefits for employees; operating an open government, with the exception of personnel issues; and improving communications between the city and the public.
"With so much work done on computers, I sometimes think people don't talk to one another face-to-face to resolve issues," he said. "I think communication is essential."
Bringing growth back to Wheeling despite dwindling population requires strategic planning, Adams said.
"We need to plan more project costs and do long-term planning," Adams said. "All you ever hear about are proposals on the shelf. I envision getting a good estimate on some projects, including those that can be done in-house, and formulating a realistic long-term plan."
Adams said the city has been doing an admirable job regarding storm sewer separation work and other infrastructure projects, and that needs to continue. As former Public Works director for 12 years, Adams said he's more than acquainted with the demands of that department and would bring that experience to the council table.
If elected, Adams said he would keep the public informed, not just in the 5th Ward but throughout the city. He also believes in "strong fiscal responsibility" in spending taxpayers' dollars.
- Boord, a practicing public accountant, said the city has many problems and no council member can solve them alone.
"Basically, we need to change or eliminate the obstacles that deter new businesses and strive to keep the ones we have," he said. "Another big issue is the transparency of the city's financial issues and to tell the people who elected them what they are doing with the money and accountability for the increase of the city debt.
"The city of Wheeling remains an ideal locality to live, to work and to raise a family," he continued. "It has excellent schools, beautiful parks, low crime rate, incomparable fire department, efficient public services and, most importantly, warm and friendly residents."
Boord expressed concern about funding projects by raising costs for resident on fixed incomes.
According to Boord the biggest issue facing the 5th Ward is the redistricting.
- Napier, an Iraq War veteran who works for Monoceros Properties in Wheeling, believes abolishing Wheeling's B&O tax could lead to more young people landing gainful employment in the city.
"It drives businesses away from Wheeling," he said. "Eliminating the B&O tax would encourage more businesses to come to Wheeling. More people are going to want to come to area. We would have more tourism events, and more events at WesBanco (Arena). This would result in more money we can invest into the city to liven it up."
Napier also has reservations about the planned East Wheeling sports field and said the project has been "grossly mismanaged" by the city.
"The property adjacent to it is for sale," he said. "They didn't have to use eminent domain" to take properties to develop the field.
He also believes the jobs resulting from construction of the field should go to local residents.
"Some of these demolition jobs are going to Michigan companies, and I would like them to see stay in the Ohio Valley," Napier said.