Steven (Steve) A. Bohrer and Keith Nelsen are seeking the office of mayor of New Martinsville. Incumbent Lucille Blum is not seeking another term.
Bohrer is a lifelong resident of Wetzel County. Having grown up in Proctor, he has resided in New Martinsville since 1971. He is married to Patty (Catasein) and has two daughters, Stephaney Thrall of Woodstock, Ga., and Sarah of New Martinsville. His grandson, Jacob, also resides in Georgia.
Bohrer is retired from AEP. During his career with AEP Steve managed maintenance projects and was instrumental in planning and coordinating turbine outages.
Bohrer was elected to three consecutive terms (12 years) on the city council representing the Third Ward. He is a member of Rotary International and Past President, currently serving on the Board of Directors. He is a member of Moose International, Lodge #941; is a past Prelate, and served on the Degree Team. He is a past president of the Sistersville Country Club where he served on the Board of Directors for five years.
Bohrer served with the 463rd Combat Engineers. In 2006 he was honored with a New Martinsville Lifetime Achievement Award.
Currently, Bohrer is serving as Chairman of the Board for the APBA Quarter Mile Challenge an event planned for inboard and outboard boating time trials to be held in New Martinsville, Sept. 28-30.
(Editor's Note: The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in races of local significance. Their responses are printed in the April 25 and May 2 editions of the Wetzel Chronicle in a simple question and answer format.)
The Bohrers enjoy living on North Main Street and are members of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Nelsen resides at 645 5th Street. Son of Mildred Morgan, he has been married to Tammy Sue Mattox Nelsen for 32 years. They have one son, Nicholas and his wife Arra Green Nelsen, and two grandchildren, Christian and Allie Sue. He is a 1973 Magnolia High School Graduate and member of Moose Lodge 931. They attend New Martinsville United Methodist Church.
Nelsen began working at Morgan's gas station. He worked for Cyril Klug (Magnolia Distributing) and John J. Mensore (Mensore Distributing) nearly 20 years. He learned much from them. Also, he was employed with Hornor Brothers Engineers as an inspector. He is currently Manager of Wetzel County Public Service District No. 1. He worked with the ambulance squad and fire departments. He has been the project manager of three projects worth over $8 million since 1992. Currently he is working on a new $3.5 million project and a $550,000 upgrade. This gives necessary experience on how to manage the operation, finances, and budgets of the city.
Nelsen was recently 2nd Ward Councilman where he chaired the Animal Control, Police, Electric, and Street Committees. "The time spent as a councilman gave me insight and experience necessary to be a functioning mayor," he says.
Do you have a plan for progress in New Martinsville? Give some specific steps to achieve that goal?
Bohrer: Yes. The traffic bottleneck must be addressed if our city is to grow. I plan to work with local and state elected officials to have this issue addressed by the Governor. This is a problem that can only be solved by the Governor and our State legislators.
Nelsen: Progress will only happen if all members of council give focused attention to the current line of progress it is on now. As mayor I want to try to regroup the city. Touch on the hard questions and problems and move towards permanent and effective solutions. I have been absent from the council table for two years, but I have kept in touch with some of the employees and I believe they want the city to move forward. As a group we must get our financial house in order, get the department heads to continue to spend money wisely and stay within their budgets.
This is a hard time especially for the departments that require vehicles constantly on the run. Fuel costs have skyrocketed as each person reading this knows. What is the city's financial situation? I will move to audit all accounts and figure out where the city is wasting money or investing badly. I will have all financial records available for inspection for all to see.
The B & O tax must be looked at. Is everyone paying what is required? Do we still need the municipal fee? If yes, can it be reduced? Everything starts and ends with the balancing of a budget and sticking to it, even when it hurts. This can be done.
Do you agree with council's decision last year to repeal an ordinance prohibiting natural gas exploration and gathering activities? Explain.
Bohrer: I do agree. Gas exploration in West Virginia and, in particular, Wetzel County is going to intensify. All people and entities having interests in oil and gas should have the right to negotiate leases.
Nelsen: The easy answer is yes. Perhaps it was a knee jerk reaction to a perceived problem and the council acted quickly without enough thought to the end result. However, the city as a whole has to protect the citizens on many different venues as they see best. The voters put into office the person they feel can do what is best for the people and the city. Sometimes, as with this ordinance, the people spoke up and a corrected path was taken. We need the business and tax dollars the gas industry creates, but it must be positive and beneficial to all. The city must look forward to the cause and effect this industry has on our city.
Name one city issue you would like to see addressed and how specifically you would work to rectify it.
Bohrer: Some of our city's streets, including Route 2, are not in good shape and are dirty, giving the appearance that the residents have given up the idea that they live in a community with any future possibilities. This is not the case. Major street repairs will have to wait on the necessary capital. I absolutely believe that the capital for New Martinsville's streets can be found through local and state governments. I will work, tirelessly, to see this resolved.
Nelsen: My issue has to be the traffic on state Route 2 through town. The five-way intersection is a massive accident waiting to happen. People passing on the right, cutting people off so they can get one or two cars ahead. The city must convince the state to figure out the problem with the red light synchronization. I don't have an easy answer, but I will encourage the council to employ the "squeaky wheel method" wherever necessary to work on getting this problem fixed. Let me know your ideas.
Call call city hall. Ask questions. Attend council meetings.