This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the June 9 West Virginia Primary Election.
I’m Andy Battista, Republican candidate for mayor of Huntington. I was born in Huntington. I am currently retired as of September 2019, and while I’m enjoying retirement, I’m ready to go back to work to serve as your mayor.
Huntington has been good to me, and I’m ready to work for the city and help bring it back to when Huntington was a great place to live. I have lived in the Westmoreland part of town most all of my life and graduated from Vinson High in 1965. I took my senior trip to Vietnam, as many of my friends did. After my Army service, I worked at Chapman Printing for 18 years. After that I owned a screen printing business for 10 years. I worked at Southwestern Community Action for a while then retired from General Building & Supply after nine years. I received an associate’s degree in business management from Mountwest Community and Technical College in 2015.
Over the years, the population of Huntington has declined. This is a direct fault of City Hall. I remember when we had over 80,000 citizens. We are now down to around 47,000. Instead of finding ways to keep businesses and citizens here, the city found a way to meet the budget; it’s called FEES. When more citizens move across the river, the fees go up for those who are still here. I will do away with the so-called user fee. If you live and work in the city limits, there will be NO user fee. The so-called Water Quality Fee, which was introduced under false pretenses, will be gone. If you remember, it was to fix the viaducts from flooding. They still flood!
Another issue I will address is the police department. We should have at least 100+ officers on duty. I will work hard to find ways to entice young men and women to sign up and consider a career with the Huntington Police Department. We are purchasing five new cruisers; however, we do not have enough officers to drive them. We need the presence of officers even if they are driving around neighborhoods.
I wish someone could explain to me the reasoning for a needle exchange. This program will be the first to be eliminated. It is NOT working and is illegal. Whatever happened to the HIV problem in Huntington? I’m not sure who put the hush on that story but someone did.
As far as the houses that need to be torn down, it should be the owners’ responsibility to repair or tear down, and that’s with a 30-day notice. If the city has to tear the house down, the owner is to pay or the city puts a lien on property and sell it for the cost of tearing it down.
Huntington has way too many, for the lack of a better term, “homeless” people walking around. A license for bikes in the city limits will help. No grocery carts or baby strollers without babies. I realize a lot of these problems are somewhat minor, but an upgrade to the police force would help tremendously. At one time we had two cab companies. We taxed them right out of the city yet you see them (Metro) all over town. I believe tax breaks for business and new home owners would attract people to move back to Huntington.
No, this is not an overnight fix, but a good start now will work in the near future.