The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in the upcoming New Martinsville Municipal Election to be held May 13 in conjunction with the Primary Election.
Their responses are being printed in alphabetical order by race.
None of the major races on the county ballot are contested until the General Election; we will print stories on those races at that time.
Holly Grandstaff and Jeremy Shepherd
Early voting is now in progress, through Saturday, in person at the Wetzel County Courthouse. Voting takes place between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Thursday; and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Saturday. On Election Day the polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A list of polling places can be found on page 8B. Sample ballots are also printed on pages 6B, 7B, and 8B.Holly Grandstaff and Jeremy Shepherd are both seeing to serve as the First Ward's representative to New Martinsville City Council.
Grandstaff was appointed to serve as the First Ward council person, taking office Jan. 1, 2013. The seat became available after Linda Barth moved to the Fourth Ward and resigned her First Ward position. Prior to that, Grandstaff had served on council for a two terms. She did not provide a biography for this article.
Shepherd, co-owner of Prodigy Wellness Center with his wife Sarah, is a graduate of Magnolia High School and has bachelor degrees in computer science from West Virginia Wesleyan College and athletic training from James Madison University, as well as a master degree in athletic training from California University of Pennsylvania. Shepherd's work experience includes positions as a computer systems analyst for Lockheed Martin in Washington, D.C., and an athletic trainer for the San Diego Chargers and the Detroit Lions of the NFL. He chose to come back home in 2011, so that he could be closer to his family and friends and his interests such as hunting and fishing. Most recently he was employed locally by Mountain River Physical Therapy and NovaCare Rehabilitation.
Shepherd became politically active when he took a proactive position opposing the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012. He organized opposition, guest spoke on radio shows, participated in roundtable discussions with state leaders, and interviewed with area newspapers. He believes that this experience and the contacts that he has made can assist local residents with this problem, which he emphasizes is not over. He believes the law must be repealed.
What is the first thing you would like to get accomplished if you are elected (or re-elected) to this position?
Grandstaff: The city of New Martinsville is a wonderful place to raise a family and live. Unfortunately our children leave the community to secure jobs in other cities. It's an unfortunate situation. We need to work toward acquiring industry and businesses in our city and adjacent towns so our youth may have work in this area. As a citizen and council woman, I would like to work toward this goal, even knowing that money and political clout are not on the side of small town USA.
I would love to work toward enclosing Lewis Wetzel Pool to provide a year-found recreation area. But I know it would be an expensive project. Money would have to be secured. It could provide some year-round jobs in our town.
Shepherd: As a new city council member, I will immediately begin developing a working relationship with fellow council members, the mayor, city recorder, city employees, and our representatives at the county and state level. This is essential to allow me to pass on factual information in a timely manner to my constituents for whom I represent. Furthermore, the financial strain placed on the city due to raising healthcare insurance costs needs to be addressed for lower cost alternatives, but without compromising the benefits of employees. Adding to this, discussions of a fiscal strategic plan both in the short and long-terms is needed. This plan should be the driving force behind how we allocate taxpayer's dollars. We do this in our personal lives and for our businesses; city government shouldn't be exempt. That being said, this can be accomplished by prioritizing short- and long-term budget goals focusing on a strategic community plan that is inclusive of all individuals, businesses, and organizations in the city. Additionally, an online guide for city residents should be provided that tracks public tax dollars that is easy to understand and publicly available.
Elaborate three main reasons you should fill/keep this position.
Grandstaff: I have given our community nine years of service. It has been an honor to fill the position for Linda Barth after her move to the area of the Fourth Ward. It takes experience and willingness to serve in order to fill the important position of representative to any ward. We have a group of workers in our city who are and will be here to serve the town's needs.
It's important to have clear communications and come to council meetings the first Monday of every month to express concerns and let your ward representative know.
Shepherd: First, let me state that I care about the residents that call Brooklyn home. I grew up in Brooklyn. My parents and many lifelong friends still reside there and I visit often. Therefore, I am well aware of issues with the trains, the bridge being closed, and the condition of unmaintained properties. That said, I can relate to the residents there because even though I now reside on Clark Street, a lot of me is still there. It is my goal to be the voice for not just the residents of Brooklyn, but the entire ward. Secondly, I am educated, holding a master and two bachelor degrees. This education has opened doors for unique professional opportunities working in the NFL for the Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers. These jobs helped me develop professionalism, attention to detail, and an out-going personality that has carried over into all aspects of my life. And third, an aspect that makes Prodigy Wellness Center successful is practicing fiscal responsibility by setting a budget and doing business within its means. Adding to the previous statements, I feel strongly I will succeed as a council member by having open communication with my constituents and listening to their needs and concerns.
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?
Grandstaff: A $10,000 gift would help in many areas, but I feel the Street Department would benefit greatly with such a gift. The lack of funds to complete and maintain the city streets has always been an issue. I know that black top is not always readily available at times, but we must, if possible, find other sources that are available.
Having a city owned asphalt plant would create jobs for the area and eliminate the delay of repair on so many of the city roads that are deteriorating.
Shepherd: As an elected official, I represent the citizens in the first ward and community residents as a whole. Therefore, I would want feedback from the individuals I represent. As the voice for this group, I would make the suggestion to them that the $10,000 be given to the city police to buy equipment that is essential to their job that has not been figured into their portion of the city budget. This amount of money could be used to buy new weapons, mobile radios, and technology to ensure the officers are using up-to-date equipment. Furthermore, an alternative use of the $10,000 could be updating computer software to allow for a municipal paperless billing option and online bill pay for those individuals that choose to enroll that will cut overhead costs. Adding to this, an up-to-date, user friendly, informational city website could emerge from technological upgrades.