Elam plans to run for mayor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ironton's upcoming mayoral race is about to get a bit more crowded because Councilman John Elam said he plans to file his nomination papers "in the very foreseeable future."

As of Tuesday, only Charles D. "Duke" Sheridan had filed with the Lawrence County Board of Elections. Mayor Bob Cleary has said he plans to run for reelection, but does not plan on filing until closer to the August deadline.

Elam has worked as a grant and revenue specialist at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth for the past five years and has been a part of the medical industry for more than 20 years.

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In his first elected position, Elam was voted onto council in November 2001 and took office in December 2001. His term will end December 2006.

"As a council member I have worked to achieve some positive results for the city," he said. "As Mayor, I would give my full-time efforts in promoting progress for the area."

Elam, 45, is an Ashland native, but said his heart has always been close to Ironton especially because his wife Becky is a life-long resident. Elam has developed strong family ties while living in Ironton during the past eight years.

He and his wife send their two children -- Molly, 8, and Aaron, 7, to city schools.

Part of his motivation for running for the office is because he has seen the continued economic decline of the city, he said.

"I think if you look at the demographics, there are less occupied houses and less residents. We are training good people but they are not coming back," he said. "I think Ironton has a lot to offer. I think we are a strong Appalachian culture with a good work ethic, and I would like to see all these incorporated to work for the prosperity of Ironton."

Elam said he thinks his background in finances and grant writing will allow him to work to move the city forward.

"I have business skills that would help develop a long-term strategic plan that would be achieved by successful short-term goals," he said.

If elected, Elam said his immediate plans would be to develop a business plan for one-, three- and five-year outlooks, to work closely with the economic development director to market the city, provide all city personnel the tools and info needed to accomplish their objectives and further the city's plans to create a Web site.

Also, to help keep the public informed of what the government is working on, Elam said he would like to see an arrangement worked out with Ohio University Southern to have the city council meetings televised.

"I think we need to give the residents something to cheer about, something everyone can get behind," he said.

Overall, Elam said he cannot say anything negative about the city's current elected officials and would like to continue the work that has been started.

"Through the efforts of the current administration and the guidance of the city council, hopefully we are pointing ourselves in the right direction," he said.

The non-partisan election will be held in November. To run for mayor in the city, candidates must have 400 signatures from residents supporting their campaign. Elam said he has nearly enough signatures but will review them before submitting his application.