Council District 3 candidates outline goals
HUNTINGTON -- Making downtown Huntington cleaner and attracting more businesses to the downtown are among the priorities for the candidates running for Huntington City Council's District 3 seat.
The district includes the downtown from 1st to 18th streets between the Ohio River and 8th Avenue.
Incumbent Frances Jackson, a 71-year-old retired machine operator for Corbin Limited, is seeking her third four-year term as the district's representative. She narrowly won the Democratic primary and was going to be unopposed in the general election until Pete Gillespie Sr. got enough signatures from voters in the district to enter the race as an independent candidate.
Gillespie's son, Pete Gillespie Jr., is running for City Council's District 2 seat. Their names will not appear together on any city ballot because they are running for different district seats.
Jackson said she has been responsive to downtown residents and business owners and addresses their concerns in a timely fashion. She said she is proud that the downtown is cleaner and that there are more restaurants, retail options and events in the downtown, but more work remains.
If re-elected, Jackson said she would focus on cleaning up cigarette butts in the downtown. Volunteer groups have helped, but Jackson said she can lend assistance by crafting legislation that would further deter the practice of tossing cigarette butts on the sidewalks and streets.
Jackson also said she would like four more years on council to work on improving collection of delinquent fees and taxes. The councilwoman helped form a committee of council members to research ways to collect delinquent taxes more efficiently. The committee has met once but hasn't presented any formal proposals.
"We've talked and talked but haven't done anything," Jackson said. " We need more meetings so we can work this out and get these bills paid."
Gillespie, 56, is a former furniture upholsterer who is now unemployed. He said he decided to run as an independent candidate because he's seen little progress in city government.
"I don't think Ms. Jackson has done anything interesting in the last eight years, either," he said. "I don't have anything against her. I just want her job."
In going door to door to collect signatures for his candidacy petition, Gillespie said he heard a lot of complaints from residents in his district about drugs, prostitution and bars.
"I believe prostitution and drugs go hand in hand, so we need to crack down on those things," he said. "And bar owners have a responsibility to keep their customers safe. Over the past few years, the number of bar shootings we've had is outrageous."
Gillespie also said he would focus on providing more things to do for children in the downtown.
"We need events for young people," he said. "We should get churches and the landlords together so they can put on events in some of the empty spaces."