Blankenship first to file for mayor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ironton City Councilman Rich Blankenship is the first candidate to officially file his petitions to run for mayor.

Although three others have taken out petitions, they haven’t turned them into the Board of Elections yet. They have until Aug. 1 to do so.

Blankenship said there are many things he would do if elected to office, including fiscal responsibility and being open to the public.

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Blankenship has been a probation officer for the past seven years and has worked at Lawrence County Children’s Services as an investigator.

He said when it comes to balancing the budget, the answer was to be fiscally conservative and to be accountable and responsible to what the city purchases.

“You have to be realistic in spending the taxpayers’ money and research what is really needed,” he said.

He pointed out that when there were requests to purchase equipment for the city recently, the original request was more than $1 million and then it dropped to $650,000.

“After doing some research on my own I found that it could be $300,000,” he said, adding that some city departments could purchase equipment out of their own budgets.

He thinks there are some areas when costs could be cut.

He said off the top of his head, he thinks labor consultant fees could be cut.

“I think I could sit down with employees and discuss issues with them and come to an agreement,” Blankenship said. “I feel confident in my negotiation abilities to come to an agreement.”

He would also lower the amount of pre-approved purchase orders.

“I want to keep the council informed on these purchases,” he said. “So everything is not an emergency measure.”

An emergency measure is when council suspends the rules and votes for passage without the regular course of three readings.

“In my two years on council, it seems like it is always an emergency measure,” he said. “I think if we stay on top of issues we can inform council in a timely manner, have three readings and give everyone time to study it and the public to have input.”

He would also like to have a mayor’s forum to have people come in and discuss issues and he added he would always have an open door policy.

He said getting out and talking to people is what leads to good ideas.

Blankenship said he would like to build up the city’s parks and recreation department, for both kids and adults. He said he remembers as a kid that there were a lot of activities.

One thing he is working on now is getting a grant for a skate park, an idea he got from talking to local skaters.

“They were the ones who told me about the Tony Hawk Foundation, which gives grants to cities to build skate parks,” Blankenship said. Tony Hawk is a professional skater who is as famous for his video games as for his skating style.

When it comes to creating jobs, he thinks Ironton needs to market itself better by advertising in national trade magazines aimed at business leaders.

He also thinks Ironton needs to be cleaned up so it looks better.

“We have codes on the books that need to be enforced,” he said, referring to dilapidated buildings and burned out houses. “Nobody was to come to a city where you see all these eyesores.”

While Blankenship is the first to have filed, three other people have taken out petitions to run for mayor, Councilman and former mayor Bob Cleary, Ironton school board member Bob Vaughn and citizen Leonard Battise.

Current Mayor John Elam has said he is not running for re-election and Councilman Butch Huff had taken out petitions, but withdrew from the race.