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New Martinsville City Council Questions

By Staff | May 13, 2020

1. Why are you running for Council?

Iris Isaacs: Being an incumbent, I am so honored to be representing 6th Ward and I am excited to continue projects that I have been a part of, Home Rule being one of the most important. The financial income that is projected will help with paving, dilapidated buildings, staying competitive, and try to bring back the pride that once existed in our town.

Joel Potts: Iam running for council because of the love that I have for the city and hope to continue making it a better place to work and live.

Patrick Durant: I feel council needs some different perspective on issues and I think I could help being an employee for the last 41 years.

Jeff Gieseke: I am running to retain my seat as Ward 1 Councilperson.

Charlie Myers: I chose to run out of a feeling that I can offer something to the city. I have no complaints about the current council, I feel they have done a great job. I just think that a different perspective and different ideas are needed at times.

Ronald McCoy: I feel council needs a new and different perspective on issues facing the city. I feel that with my work and business experience I would be useful in making decisions on council.

Scott Kernan: Running for council is my way of giving back, I want people to be proud of where they live, and I would like to be involved in making that happen by working with the mayor and other council members.

2. What experience do you have that will make you a qualified councilperson?

Iris Isaacs: I have had the honor to represent the sixth ward for two terms. In the beginning I was naive; I sometimes listened to the wrong people. Since then I started researching issues for myself, to become more informed on the issue so I could make up my mind what is best for New Martinsville instead of someone telling me what was best. I, on my own time, in the last couple of years have been going the Municipal League Sessions, going to State Auditor Classes, and have more knowledge of state and federal guidelines.

Joel Potts: The many years of working with the public and working with large budgets with various organizations and businesses.

Patrick Durant: The 41 years of working for the New Martinsville Water & Sewer, I have worked with large budgets. Went to various classes such as State Auditor Classes, Employee Law & Regulator, Budgets Preparation. I have experience dealing with employees and citizens of New Martinsville and solving problems.

Jeff Gieseke: I have two years experience as a Councilperson of New Martinsville, Chair the City’s Police Department Committee, sit on the street and fire department, and serve as liaison to the planning committee.

Charlie Myers: I have no political or government experience, but I do have experience in dealing with the public through previous employment and volunteer work. Through my current job, I generate Requests for Quotes that go out to vendors for jobs large and small. On projects assigned to me, I am responsible for budgeting, job operations, and safety on projects from water line repairs, street paving and repair, building structural issues, large scale roofing projects, safety and security projects, and other infrastructure repairs and replacements. I work with various people on these projects to control costs, ensure jobs are on specification, and ensure safety and quality. This description may seem more suited to a department manager or general foreman, but it has given me experience in dealing with people and personalities, budgeting, problem solving, and a general knowledge of various construction and maintenance techniques that I think would be an asset in a councilperson.

Ronald McCoy: I am a graduate of Magnolia High School and West Liberty University with a Business Administration degree in Accounting. I have owned and worked in small businesses in New Martinsville and understand their struggles.

Scott Kernan: My previous experience as a 911 dispatcher for 18 years has given me the opportunity to see how the government operates. There is not an endless amount of funding or income but at the same time you still provide the best service possible to the citizens. I want the citizens of New Martinsville to know we are working for them and have their best interest in mind.

3. How does public safety rank on your list of priorities? Do you envision a larger police or fire department?

Iris Isaacs: Public safety is top on the list of priorities. Everyone in town should feel safe and secure, and our children should be able to play outside and in our parks without being afraid. The safety of the employees is also top of the list and I have always voted in favor of any safety issues. I would love to see another officer added to the police force where there would always be two on a shift. Domestic calls are something I am most fearful of and when working as a dispatcher I always hated sending an officer to a domestic without back up. Our fire department is a volunteer group and the city recently purchased a new ladder truck. They service all around the area; many receive these services without any cost and are out of city limits. I have questioned this practice. The city does their best to provide for the needs of the fire department and we are very appreciative of what they do, however I am afraid their sacrifice is taken for granted by many.

Joel Potts: Public Safety is a top priority. If the city is not safe, businesses or citizens alike do not want to be here. I do envision a larger police department. We have been able to make some wage adjustments, so that should help retain officers once they are trained. New Martinsville is extremely fortunate to have a volunteer fire department. They have been fortunate to have added several new members to their ranks in the past year.

Patrick Durant: Public Safety is my top priority. I would like to see more officers hire to protect and serve and I think we could have more if council could give them a competitive wage, so we can keep police officers. I think we have a great Fire Department and equipment, and it would be great to have more volunteers.

Jeff Gieseke: Public safety is always at the top of the list. We, as a council, have been meeting with each other and the department heads, either in person or electronically to discuss and implement guidelines for the safety of all city employees as well as the general public. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and instructions from the governor as to how we can best keep the public and employees as safe as possible.

Charlie Myers: As a former police officer in New Martinsville, I list the Police Department as one of my top priorities. I would like to see another two officers added to the department. This addition would supplement patrol officers especially during the school year, when we essentially lose two officers to the school resource program. I believe the school resource officer program is essential to our schools, but I also believe that with an additional two officers on the road, our town will be more safe and secure. As an inactive member of the Fire Department, I think the volunteers do a great job of preserving life and property, and I don’t know what their needs are at this point, but I certainly support getting them the tools and equipment needed to do the job they do.

Ronald McCoy: Public safety ranks number one for me. Yes, I do envision a larger police and fire department. I think it would allow for better safety for police officers and firemen. Also, it would allow coverage as personnel retire or leave until qualified candidates are hired.

Scott Kernan: Public safety is ranks very high to me. My experience has shown me how emergencies affect people. During these times when people are the most vulnerable and having a quick response by law enforcement and/or the fire department gives them comfort knowing someone is willing to help in their time of need. Sometimes a smiling face or being told everything will be okay can improve a person’s wellbeing in a time of uncertainty, A larger police department would need to based on statics and the need of the city. Since the fire department is a volunteer agency, they are always in need for volunteers to help the community.

4. What do you love about the city of New Martinsville?

Iris Isaacs: The people. Growing up in New Martinsville, it was a community that was always looking out for us. I did not know it at the time of course, but looking back, there were so many involved in making the community better. There was Junior Achievement program, more people were interested in what council was doing, people looked out for us kids, not to get us in trouble, but out of a true concern for our well-being; it was a true team effort. There was a pride in our town that could not be compared to anyone. People took care of their homes and property and litter was not the problem it is today. It was a community where you felt safe, felt loved, and felt like there was always something to do. I think we can get back to that kind of a community.

Joel Potts: The citizens. When there is a crisis hey always step up to the plate and are willing to help out.

Patrick Durant: I love it because it’s a small town, the citizens, it’s my hometown and when there is any problems the citizens come together.

Jeff Gieseke: I love the fact that we are a small town. Most people living in New Martinsville genuinely care about our city and do their partin making t a place where people want to live and raise a family.

Charlie Myers: The small town feel, neighbors and even strangers speaking to you on the street or in the stores. The hometown feeling.

Ronald McCoy: It’s my hometown. I love the people and that they come together to help in time of need.

Scott Kernan: I like the small town feel of New Martinsville, I enjoy being out in the public and seeing people walking and talking on Main St, families out enjoying the sights and knowing this is a safe place to live. I like the fact there are several locally owned businesses to support.

5. How will you be responsive to citizens and to support and improve citizen involvement in city government?

Iris Isaacs: As I have always been, IF I am contacted by a citizen with an issue, whether it be from my ward or any ward, I try to do everything I can to resolve it. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not, but I follow through with anyone that contacts me. I wish more would get more involved; I would love to see the chamber full. Regretfully many never show unless we do something that displeases them. This is their community and more interest help all of us.

Joel Potts: I feel that I have always been open to talking with everyone about their issues and concerns, I can be contacted at anytime by phone at 304-266-0054. I hope we can begin to live stream meetins so the public can get a dirst hand account of what is happening if they are unable to attend.

Patrick Durant: I will be available and listen to all concerns and suggestions of the citizens and address the issues to the best of my ability. I will encourage the citizens to attend the Council Meeting.

Jeff Gieseke: I will continue to make myself available to by constituents 24 hours a day. I will meet with them at council meetings, go to their homes or talk on the phone, whichever is most productive. I always encourage residents to attend council meetings.

Charlie Myers: I will be available to talk to people about problems and listen to their suggestions. I will make my phone number available. I will encourage citizens to attend council meetings, and to speak their piece.

Ronald McCoy: I will listen to the concerns of the citizens and do my best to find answers and solutions for them. I would also like to work on increasing public attendance at city meetings through better publicizing of meeting times place, and agenda.

Scott Kernan: I am always willing to listen to concerns and ideas from residents. I would encourage residents to attend council meeting to see what is happening in their town firsthand. Input from the voters is what a council person should be looking for, so they have the citizens best interest in mind.

6. How important are Parks and Recreation for our community? How important is this to you?

Iris Isaacs: Very important on both questions. I now serve as liaison to the parks and it has been an awarding experience working with our Director. She constantly tries to improve activity with the community. Our parks are beautiful and I believe any one moving to this area with children will look and see what kind of parks we have. We have a fantastic pool at Lewis Wetzel, Bruce Park is such a peaceful park; it has the miniature golf, tennis courts, and one of the most popular and used is the basketball court. Kids will be playing until late at night. It is heartwarming to me to see all those kids out doing something.

Joel Potts: This is a very important department for the city. A good parks and recreation department helps attract people to the city. I have always been very supportive of all the improvements that have been made to our parks over the past few years.

Patrick Durant: Both questions are important to me. We have beautiful Parks, Lewis Wetzel, Bruce and Brooklyn park. It’s important to me because I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that really enjoy it.

Jeff Gieseke: Parks and pools are very important to the citizens of New Martinsville. Having two grandsons that utilize the parks in New Martinsville, We want our children to have a safe, well maintained, clean place to play, participate in sports and just have fun.

Charlie Myers: Growing up in the 60s and 70s in Brooklyn, the meeting place was Brooklyn Park. My friends and I played lots of baseball and basketball in that park. I met my wife in the park. It was a very important part of my life. We need places to take our children for recreation and exercise. I was upset when the wading pool in Brooklyn was removed, as well as when Bruce Park pool was shut, but I understand the reasons behind the closings. I would support more attractions and activities in our parks for our citizens.

Ronald McCoy: The park and recreation is very important. I feel it keeps the youth involved with the community offering activities geared toward them.

Scott Kernan: Parks and Recreation is a very important part of our community, they afford citizens and visitors an opportunity to be outdoors, enjoying nature, and participating in the many activities that Parks and Recreation provide throughout the year.

7. What will you do to improve city streets and improve the overall appearance of the community?

Iris Isaacs: With the Home Rule program, we will be receiving more income than we have realized since I have been elected. I am excited to be a part of this, we will have more money for paving, we will be replacing old vehicles, outdated equipment, both will eliminate the high cost of maintenance the city was paying. We have to deal with individuals who refuse to take care of their property and devalue others property. Property that has been abandoned and is ready to fall down, needs torn down, and we will have the funds necessary for that and always follow the guidelines that give the owner a chance to take care of the issue. We will be giving everyone a chance to clean up, but enough is enough. We have to find a way for people to take pride not only in their home but our community; it takes all of us.

Joel Potts: I will continue to fight for a larger paving budget and continue supporting homeowners and businesses to upgrade their properties.

Patrick Durant: The city will be obtaining more monies under the Home Rule they were just granted, so I would like to get our streets in better condition, take care of the dilapidated buildings and support homeowners to clean up their properties.

Jeff Gieseke: Council has agains added a line item in the 020-2021 budget specifically for the paving of the city streets and have purchased a new street sweeper to clean and maintain the streets. I will continue to actively pursue any complaints filed or brought o my attention.

Charlie Myers: Urge citizens to maintain their properties in good condition. Push an agenda to clean up litter, and to see that litter generators are penalized. At my current job, one of my duties is to maintain paving on the facility streets, I may be able to assist the Street Department with paving assessments and scheduling of jobs.

Ronald McCoy: I would work on maintaining them and addressing problems before they get out of hand. We need to keep things cleaned up by picking up and emptying trash cans regularly.

Scott Kernan: I would work with the street commissioner and his department to identify what streets need improved, either needed paving, patching or clean up. I feel at the street department takes pride in their work and I would work with them to continue improving our cities appearance.

8. What is your response to the homeless in New Martinsville?

Iris Isaacs: The Homeless situation saddens me. There are groups in town that are now trying to work with the issues of homelessness, the biggest majority of homeless is connected to drugs and alcohol. What is sad, is until the individual decides they want a change, anything we do will be futile. We cannot force them to sobriety or to start working somewhere to eliminate them from being homeless. Regretfully, some citizens are fearful on these individuals and our officers go on many calls to either remove them from sleeping in the parks, laundromats, and other places that are off limits. I have attended a meeting at the ACTS church about this issue; they were in the process of doing some programs, but regretfully the virus has stopped that.

Joel Potts: I support the CVB with their efforts to feed the homeless and shelter them during extreme weather conditions. I hope that at some time in the future that grant money could be available to get a shelter in place for the homeless.

Patrick Durant: This is an incredibly sad situation. I think we need to find out why and try to help them the best way we can, but these individuals must want to help their self-first. There really is not an easy solution.

Jeff Gieseke: We need to help those that want help. There is no easy solution. Understanding the reason why they are homeless is the first step. Is it the result of a lost job, mental health issue, addiction or is it a chosen lifetyle?

We need to understand the root cause of the problem before we can develop a solution.

Charlie Myers: I think it is sad that a city the size of New Martinsville has a homeless population. I don’t know what programs are currently in effect to assist homeless persons, but I will support any efforts to assist people in need.

Ronald McCoy: We need programs to help homeless find housing and training and support to obtain jobs to be productive members of our community.

9. Do you support higher wages and benefits for the City employees?

Iris Isaacs: We have very good employees and I’m very thankful for them. Yes, I am for doing the best for the employees and doing it with a fairness for all employees. We are very close to having the have and have nots in city employment. Because the Electric and Water Sewer have their own income, their wages are much higher than the general revenue; the gap is troubling to many of our other employees. The general revenue fund has not had a raise for several years and lag way behind the Electric and Water and Sewer. There was a time that if one received a raise all would; this did not happen and this has caused some issues. My vote to not increase wages for one of the higher paid groups may be one of the reasons an employee is running against me, but I am for all employees and believe all are essential to the well being of this city. I have continued to fight for a group of employees who are full time but do not work forty hours weeks, like the rest of the employees. For some reason, some departments do not want this group to have those extra hours. I have seen others in authority fight this tooth and nail, but I will continue to try and bring this group up to the standard of the other employees. Being right is not always popular and being popular is not always right.

Joel Potts: I sure do support this, but only if the budget can support this. We have lost many good employees over the years because we did not have competitive wages.

Patrick Durant: Yes, we have excellent employees and we need to find the money in the Budget to take care of them.

Jeff Gieseke: Yes, since I have been on council, we have done everything in our power to ensure the city workers were compensated fairly for their efforts. We appreciate our employeess and we need them to come to work. If there is money in the budget for higher wages and benefits, we will find it.

Charlie Myers: Yes. We have good people who deserve good compensation.

Ronald McCoy: I do support wage increases and benefits in a fiscally responsible manner to keep them competitive with the surrounding communities.

Scott Kernan: Increased wages and benefits would have to be based on revenue and department budgets. I understand everyone wants a pay increase, but they must also understand the budgets need to be balanced. I would encourage employees to find ways to help save the city money during their daily activities. One small idea could save a department money which could help increase a salary or benefit.

10. What can the city do to make New Martinsville grow?

Iris Isaacs: To me the number one thing we need to do to make New Martinsville attractive place to live, is to get the drugs out of our town, which in return will help eliminate the homeless issue. We have to do something with individuals who refuse to take care oftheir property, abandoned properties, bring in different businesses, especially places of activities for our youth. We have a cinema and not very much else for entertainment. I would love to see something come in where the kids have a place to hang out. Before the plants had their cutbacks, New Martinsville had around 2500 more people. I would love to see that population again. We all are in this together, we want to help people who need help, we want a pride in our community, our schools, and to make New Martinsville the beautiful community it was when I was growing up.

Joel Potts: We need to encourage more beautification of the city and “team up” with the Chamber of Commerce to encourage businesses and industry to locate in our area.

Patrick Durant: First, I think we need to enforce our city ordinances and make sure there are repercussions for them. We have a lot of citizens that take care of their property and then thee are some that do not care what it looks like. I think there are people that would like to move in our town by when they see dilapidated building and citizens of this town not taking pride in their property it turns people away.

Jeff Gieseke: Enforce the ordinances which are on the books and write new ones that make owners responsible to maintain and clean up their properties. Most people in New Martinsville take pride in their homes and property but there are areas where some residents do not. There are few people, if any, who want to move to an area that looks like a junkyard.

Charlie Myers: I am kind of at a loss to answer this question. I don’t know what to do to make our town more attractive to business and/or industry. Our festivals increase tourism, but it seems to be mostly local tourism, people from the surrounding towns and counties. This question requires a lot more thought and consultation with others before I can give a better answer. I know there is an answer, or answers, I just don’t know them at this time.

Ronald McCoy: Find a way to recruit new businesses to locate and stay in New Martinsville.

Scott Kernan: The city appears to be headed in the right direction now that they have become a Home Rule city. I would work with council and the mayor to stay on that path to make our town a even better place to live and work.