You’ve probably heard the West Virginia Supreme Court decided that the Cabell County Board of Education isn’t required to provide funding from its excess levy to the Cabell County Public Library and the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District. I’ve touched on this issue several times and feel strongly that, as a community, we need to ensure all three groups have adequate and stable funding. You can read more about how I’m thinking about this issue in my “One Team, One Fight” post from last month.

Huntington’s neighborhoods are a tapestry of great places, and I’ve been spending as much time in each one as I can. Here are some highlights from my recent visits.

At the recent West Huntington Organization (WHO) meeting in Central City, discussions included topics such as police reports, fire prevention, improved sidewalks, and flooding. We also talked about the upcoming public meeting at The Wild Ramp to give input on current design plans for a streetscape project connecting the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) to 14th Street West. I’m sure they would be happy for me to share with all of you that the Winter Arts Fest will be held on Feb 29th.

I spent an afternoon with City Councilman Todd Sweeny, who represents the West End. He invited me to tour his district and learn more about the progress that has been made in his neighborhood over the past few years. He also drove me around to point out all the work that is left to be done. We looked at the dilapidated houses that need to be torn down, the properties that consistently run afoul of code enforcement efforts, and the places where the streets flood nearly every time it rains.

Westmoreland, another one of Huntington’s great neighborhoods, is where my business is located and where I met with the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee when they invited local candidates to speak to their group. About ten candidates were there, and several said one of their motivations for running is to make sure people don’t forget that even though Westmoreland is in Wayne County, it is still within Huntington city limits.

At an event in Fairfield hosted at the Marshall University Pharmacy School, we celebrated the launch of the Center for Economic and Community Development in Black Appalachia and Isolated Communities. This new effort was led in part by Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, who secured $1M in funding from the WV legislature to research what makes community and economic development successful in underrepresented communities. It was great to be with so many community leaders who seemed to be bursting with ideas about how to lift up their neighborhood.

What I’ve learned from attending many of these types of meetings is that most people just want to make their corner of the city better and safer. A good way to get involved is to attend a meeting of your local neighborhood association. You can find more information here.

Last weekend, I stirred up a social media conversation about where Target would go if they decided to relocate to Huntington following the collapse at their Barbourville store. Honestly, I doubt Target is eyeing Huntington for a move. What my post really showed is that people are craving more local shopping options. I’m a huge advocate of supporting our locally owned small businesses – they’re the backbone of our economy. At the same time, it is clear to me that for the last 40 years we haven’t done a good enough job of attracting Tri-State shoppers to spend their money inside Huntington city limits.

Finally, names were drawn out of a hat (a bowl actually) on Tuesday at City Hall to determine the order candidate names will appear in on the ballot for Huntington’s local races. In the Democratic primary, Dan Ferguson (left) will be listed first on the ballot and Jennifer Wheeler (right) will be second. In the Republican primary, I drew the third position behind my Republican opponents, who didn’t attend the event. While the impact of ballot order is debatable, the best approach to counter any potential unconscious bias is by taking time to meet the candidates and understand their experiences, qualifications, and vision for Huntington’s future. Engage in conversations and ask questions so you can make an informed decision

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