Candidates share views on issues
BOE, villages among races in November
There are three seats open this fall on the Ironton Board of Education.
Tim Johnson and Robert Pleasant Jr. are seeking reelection; they are joined by newcomer Mark Fields.
Fields, an engineer with Dow Chemical, said he has always been interested in the school system and has two children who attend the high school.
“I feel like this is a good time to make a contribution,” he said.
He said some of the improvements made within the past four years, such as the new facilities, have put the school district in a good position.
“I want to be able to add to that and continue moving the district in a positive direction.”
Fields said he wants to work to improve test scores but really has no special agenda for his first four-year term.
Johnson, a physical therapist, is seeking his third term on the board. He said he is running to provide a continuity of leadership.
“We’ve really improved a lot in the last eight years,” Johnson said. “We’ve improved academically and we have new facilities. I want to see this continue.”
Johnson said eight years ago, the district was in “continuous improvement” on state report cards. Now, Ironton is listed as “effective.”
Johnson said one of the things he wants to work on is to continue to improve the district’s academic standing.
And he said now that the district has new academic facilities, perhaps it’s time to start looking at ways to improve athletic facilities as well, such as Tanks Memorial Stadium, the running track and the Conley Center.
Johnson said he also plans to keep an eye on finances because of state funding cuts to schools.
“I’ve enjoyed being on the school board and I’ve enjoyed working with the staff and the administration,” Johnson said. “It’s been a positive experience for me.”
Pleasant was contacted by telephone for inclusion in the story. He had not returned phone calls as of press time
The man who lost to the current mayor of Chesapeake four years ago wants his job back as longtime former mayor Jimmie Justice challenges Mayor Dick Gilpin in this November’s election.
The third candidate in the race is former village councilman and clerk Terry Griffin, who has had worked for both men.
Gilpin, a Chesapeake businessman, is running for his second term as mayor, having defeat Justice in the 2007 election. He has focused his current term on improving the infrastructure of the village, he said.
Among the accomplishments Gilpin lists in a prepared statement are repaving more than 4,600 feet of streets; fixing the flooding problem on Fourth and Fairfax streets; receiving funding to replace the road to North Huntington Heights; purchasing equipment for the street department; and paying off police cruisers.
If elected for a second term, Gilpin wants to continue with infrastructure projects.
“What we need is more road repaving,” he said. “We still have drainage issues we need to address. We are trying to improve the sidewalks. You have to take care of your house and the village is our house. We have to take care of what we own and make improvements.”
Justice, who currently works at the Union-Rome Waste Treatment Plant, was mayor for 20 years starting in 1987.
“I just like serving the people in the village and trying to help people,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to promise a whole lot until I got in there and looked at the financial situation. I know things are really tough. I am getting ready to retire in February from my job. If I get the mayor’s job, I will be down there five days a week, where (constituents) can get a hold of me.”
Among his accomplishments during his five terms he included spearheading the creation of the Veterans Memorial Park with the spire from the old Sixth Street Bridge; and Gibson Memorial Park.
“I just hope the people will vote for me,” he said. “I think most people around here know me. I will look out for their best interest.”
In an interview, Justice criticized the current administration’s financial package made to the former police chief Russell Bennett, who left that post in March 2009.
“I want people to know we have been paying two police chiefs for the past three years,” Justice said. “Russell Bennett was my police chief and they went ahead paying him $700 a month for the past three years. We have been paying two police chiefs and I don’t think that is right.”
However, Gilpin said that monthly payment was the settlement made to Bennett when he stepped down as police chief. Those payments ended in September.
As police chief Bennett received $1,200 a month, but no pay when he would fill in on patrol. Gibson makes $500 as chief as well as an hourly rate when he works on patrol.
“We weren’t paying any more per month for police than we were paying before,” Gilpin said.
In a prepared statement Griffin said he is running for mayor to move the village forward.
“I feel that I would be a good fit for the upcoming term of mayor,” according to the statement. “I would like to say I am not running for office in an attempt to downplay the work and progress that has been accomplished by our previous mayors. There is potential to move Chesapeake forward and make larger strides in progress.”
Citing his experience as former village council and clerk/treasurer, Griffin said he has the knowledge needed to run the village as its chief executive.
“I possess experience in being able to understand the aspects of the ordinance making and upholding as well the financial side of your local government,” he writes. “I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Justice and Mr. Gilpin and enjoyed working with both of them during my time of serving you, the citizens of Chesapeake. I simply would like to give you another option as we attempt to move Chesapeake forward.”
PROCTORVILLE COUNCIL RACE
This November five are vying for two spots on Proctorville Village Council. Three of those candidates have the last name of Whitley. And according to one of them, Lee Whitley, they are all related.
For at least two of them, this is their first foray into politics.
Lee Whitley, who until his retirement owned Village Floral, is running because he wants to help his hometown.
“I wanted to help the city as I could,” he said. “I liked to see the city kept clean and support a good police force.”
Margie Whitley is running because she wants to have a voice in government and to promote the concept of volunteerism among the village’s public servants.
“I want to see that each village councilman has to volunteer for four hours a month,” she said. “I want to see a family restaurant come here. I would like to see a Neighborhood Watch. We need to invest in our senior citizens. They don’t have anything here for the senior citizens. … We also need to invest in children. Our seniors are our history. Our kids are our future. Bring back street dances. If you are going to live here, you should be willing to invest your time. That is exactly what I am going to do.”
Veteran public servant Dale Burcham is going for his second term on the village council. Burcham spent more than 35 years as the county’s clerk of courts.
“I love Proctorville,” he said. “I want Proctorville to keep moving forward. I have lived in Proctorville for 75 years. I want to see Proctorville prosper and do good.”
Burcham cited as his accomplishments keeping the village moving forward.
Attempts to contact Gary Whitley and Jerry Thompson were unsuccessful by press time.
Hanging Rock mayor
The Village of Hanging Rock will elect a mayor, two council members and a city clerk in November but the only race with more than one candidate is for the mayor’s office.
Hanging Rock’s incumbent Mayor Chris Davidson is being challenged for his post by Councilwoman Debbie Sanders.
Davidson and Sanders are both experienced candidates, who have worked together on the council for the past seven years.
Davidson has served a total of 15 years in local government — eight as mayor and a previous seven as a council member. Sanders has been on the council for seven years. Both say they are friends and have worked together well, adding they both have an interest in seeing continued progress in the village, regardless of who becomes mayor.
“There is leadership, guidance and an agenda,” said Sanders, of Davidson’s tenure in office. “I just have some other ideas and I would like to make some things happen.”
Sanders said she would like to “do more for the communities and the families” in Hanging Rock. If elected, Sanders said she would work to partner with local churches to open a community food bank. She would also like to create a “Coats for Kids” program, which would outfit children with new coats and boots.
She also plans to hold regular office hours and learn to write grants. Sanders said she will also work to revise Hanging Rock’s image as a “speed trap.”
Sanders is the owner operator of a group home in Portsmouth for adults with developmental disabilities. She intends to expand the business to Lawrence County in the coming years.
Davidson, a union electrician, said his top priorities if re-elected would be to implement the city’s flood mitigation plan to prevent flooding in Hanging Rock. He said he has been working on the plan for sometime, which will include doing a “full body check of the valve system in drains to prevent flood water from backing up through the storm water system” in times of heavy rains and high river levels.
Among his other goals are new buildings for the police and street departments, paving more roads and continuing to replace street signs. He said he is also looking forward to completing the fire hydrant installation project, which could help lower insurance rates for property owners. “We’re so small scale, we have felt the recession for some of the projects that we’ve had on the books,” Davidson said, explaining the city has had to stretch out some projects to make the best of funding.
Carole Goldcamp is seeking her third term in office as the village clerk/treasurer. Goldcamp has lived in Hanging Rock since 1979 with her husband Robert. She first took office in 2004. She said she would continue to “keep trying to the best job I can do. There is always something to learn.”
“We’re doing all right but the state is cutting our money and everything costs more,” she said, adding, “It’s a challenge to keep everything going, making the numbers work. Always watching the numbers.”
Councilwoman Kim Chinn is also unopposed for her second full council term. Chinn, who has served six years on the council, was first appointed to the post to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Michael.
He was unable to complete his term because of job commitments. Her mother, the late Gloria Jean Sanders, was also once a councilwoman in Hanging Rock. Chinn is a sub cook at Rockhill Schools, a position she’s held since 2004.
Chinn said she wants to work to restore Hanging Rocks’ name to “good standing,” removing the stigma of being a “speed trap.”
Political novice Josh Waginger is seeking a second open council seat in his first run for political office. He is also unopposed.
Waginger, 32, is an environmental health and safety engineer with the Liebert Corp., and has also worked for the AK Steel Corporation as well as the Lawrence County Health Department.
Waginger has pledged, “to address the concerns of the Hanging Rock community,” and to “prioritize the issues” based on their impact on residents as well as “create a correction action plan to eliminate the constraints.”
Waginger said he feels upkeep and maintenance of roads is also a major concern and plans to look for alternative means of funding for them including grants and other fundraisers.