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Rosemary Ketchum Plans to Run for Wheeling City Council

WHEELING — Rosemary Ketchum walks most everywhere she goes, and her hope is to make Wheeling more walkable, more engaging and more inclusive.

On Friday, Ketchum announced her plans to seek the Ward 3 seat on Wheeling City Council. She currently works as the associate director of NAMI of Greater Wheeling, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She also is a member of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission.

“I’ve lived and worked in the city of Wheeling for almost a decade, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work,” Ketchum said. “I believe there is an energy in the city, but I’ve also heard it called the ‘tale of two cities.’

“There’s a growing energy, but a dwindling population. There’s a burgeoning artistic community, but families are still struggling to make it by.”

Ketchum, 25, made her announcement in front of supporters at her apartment in East Wheeling on Friday.

“My campaign is one of community service,” she said. “I’m running on my record of organizing and community service.”

She has worked with homeless residents in the city, and is presently conducting a project to get forms of identification for homeless people who don’t have them. Ketchum also is a member of the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.

A transgender woman, Ketchum doesn’t want to make gender issues the focus of her campaign.

“I feel excited to represent inclusivity — but I’m not making my campaign about my gender identity or anything like that,” she said. “We have too many systemic problems we have to address, including homelessness, including addiction, including disenfranchisement. People don’t feel like they are part of their community, and one of the things we have to focus on is people not feeling a part of the change.

“There are folks who were born in the city and can no longer afford to live here. There are folks living on our streets and under our bridges who don’t have access to public restroom facilities. We have folks looking for work, but don’t have a car and realize our public transportation system doesn’t run past 5 p.m. Good luck for them.”

While Ketchum walks most everywhere, she said she does have a driver’s license and access to a car when she needs to buy groceries. That’s not an option for everyone, she said.

“We talk about in Wheeling we have a future that’s bright, advancing and progressing — but is it progressing for all of us? I can’t be sure of that,” she said.

Ketchum said as a member of council, she will commit to having “tough, emotional conversations” about controversial subjects and find ways to engage the community.

She said she also plans to donate 20 percent of her council salary back into the community.

“Every campaign has its challenges,” Ketchum said. “You want to be able to articulate yourself and be able to introduce yourself to people who don’t know you.

“I have had the privilege of working in the community for almost a decade, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of our community members. I live in the 3rd Ward, I work in the 3rd Ward, and I feel I have a special connection to the folks who live here. Of course it will be a challenge, but I’m excited for it.”

Ketchum is the first person to announce her candidacy. The election will be held in May 2020.

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