Three residents of the Sixth Ward of New Martinsville want to fill their area's seat on New Martinsville Council: Anthony Castranova, Iris "Deaner" Isaacs, and Dennis Lively.
Isaacs of 1279 North State Route 2 is married to Jim Isaacs. She has one daughter, Jennifer Gerdes, and three step-sons, Jason, Janson (deceased), and Justin.
Isaacs is a lifelong resident of New Martinsville. She worked at New Martinsville Parks before going to PPG for 38 years and retired from there as a lab analyst. She volunteered for the Natrium Federal Credit Union for over 20 years, holding each office including chair of the supervisory committee.
She is an active member of the First Christian Church. Isaacs is also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and Women of the Moose.
Since retirement Isaacs has gone back to work as a part-time dispatcher for the New Martinsville Police Department. She also worked at Tri-Corps Security.
Lively has experience in working with city and county governments. He was formerly a city council member in Paden City serving on the finance committee, the water and sewer committee, and the economic development committee. He was instrumental in the city being able to extend water services to areas slightly outside the city limits to accommodate homeowners there. He was also a part of generating a budget for the city.
(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.)
Lively also worked with the city of Sistersville to help them receive funding for the Sistersville ferry through a grant he wrote. He was instrumental in writing grant applications for the James Willison Family Center in that city.
He has done extensive training for county convention and visitors bureaus and chambers of commerce throughout West Virginia and the entire United States.
Lively is a well-known author as well as being a sought after speaker and teacher in the tourism field. He and his significant other, Cheryl, live on Paddock Green Drive.
What would you do with a $10,000 gift to the city if it was completely up to you, and why would you use it in that manner?
Castranova: Sources say that the self funded insurance that the city has in use is in trouble. I would use this money to help fund this program for this is one of the weak points in the city finances.
Isaacs: No matter what amount of money was given, I must never lose focus that the money really belongs to the people of New Martinsville, therefore in making my decision, I would ask myself, "Where could I spend the money that would benefit the most people?"
After much thought I decided I would spend the money on our parks. I feel every age group could be represented, from the small child playing on the swings to the older person using the shelter for a family reunion.
When I think back at my youth, I realized how much fun I personally have had at the parks. Whether it was walking down to a fast pitch softball game, playing softball with "Deaner's Demons" (a women's softball team), hitting the tennis courts, kids swimming, kids shooting hoops, or people carrying cover dishes to the shelter to have a gathering of family and friends. Our parks gives us a peaceful place to gather together and enjoy time with our loved ones and isn't that what life is really is about?
Lively: I would use a $10,000 gift to the city as "seed money" to grow a small business development fund. By using a windfall like this, donations from throughout the area would be stimulated and flow a little faster. The fund would be administered by a citizen group (maybe the CVB or chamber or a separate group all together) and would be as completely free of politics as possible. Small micro loans would be quickly and easily awarded. A small interest charge would be added to the loan and the proceeds from this charge would be used to increase the loan fund. See www.kiva.org for a working example of this method of economic development.
Do you have a plan for progress in New Martinsville? Give some specific steps to achieve that goal.
Castranova: I think that the B & 0 tax structures that the city has in place is not working. With the influx of companies and personnel doing business within the city, the city should be generating more funds that is showing. These taxes should have increased by-fold and from sources this is not happening.
Isaacs: Since I decided to run for council I have had several people air their concerns, from bad roads, traffic issues, low morale of employees, departments' budgets, why the finances are so tight, and litter that is on our highways are a few that have been mentioned to me.
My first step would become familiar with some of the employees and have them air their concerns. Spending the people's money wisely is always paramount in budget matters and I would use utmost caution in addressing those issues.
I would discuss traffic issues with the proper officials to alleviate these concerns and I would check to see if there are grants to improve city roads.
For the litter problem, I would encourage council to put a public letter stating that henceforth our officers, as busy as they already are, will enforce our lifter laws and I feel sure after a few tickets are issued our litter problem will improve. We, not only as city officials, but everyone in New Martinsville, should take pride in their community, because it belongs to all of us.
Lively: I do have a plan for progress in New Martinsville. One of the first specific steps I would take is to call on the citizens of New Martinsville to add, not only their opinions, but their knowledge and experiences to the effort. Not necessarily in volunteering, although that's always good, but in helping outline the steps we need to take to show some progress toward the goal. Secondly, I would make sure that everything is as transparent and accessible to the citizens of the city as possible. By adding an informed and interested group of citizens to the ideas they come up with, we'd have the makings of a powerful economic development tool.
Name one city issue you would like to see addressed and how specifically you would work to rectify it.
Castranova: The city should be run by the six council persons and mayor not trying to be run by one person. There should be accountability from all departments and the heads of each department. It is council's responsibility to make sure that this is done and council should work together and make sure this is being done. Give the city the respect and pride that it deserves and used to have.
I worked for the City of New Martinsville for over 33 years and have seen the good years and the bad years. I have learned some things in those years how the city should be run and am willing to learn more to give the city the pride and respect that it deserves.
Isaacs: The one issue that I would like addressed is drugs. A problem that has been here for 20-plus years but has escalated to where heroin is now the choice drug of our youth.
We as a community have kept our heads in the sand too long and are failing terribly in this area. Our children should not have to make the decision of whether they want to experiment with drugs or not. There are certain drugs when used for the very first time one becomes addicted.
There is no one solution to this problem but pretending this will never happen to my child, we are only kidding ourselves.
My first step is education, not just for the kids, but parents and the community. I would encourage people, if they see suspicious behavior going on, call your local authorities and report it. I have heard many times it won't do any good, but this is not CSI, it takes time and every time a phone call comes in the police department, the dispatcher logs that in, and believe me, after enough calls, there will be an investigation. Working together as a community we can successfully work on this serious problem.
Lively: I feel the single largest problem facing New Martinsville is the lack of coordination between different entities within the city. I would work to make city government transparent and available to all the citizens of the city through regular newsletters and updates to a new city website. I'd work to be able to broadcast council meetings to the city on a delayed basis at the very least. I'd also work hard to ensure that city residents have a say in what's going on in their hometown and that their suggestions are listened to and molded into city strategies.