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NAME: Todd Sweeney
CANDIDATE FOR: Huntington City Council District 2 (West Huntington from 1st Street to 17th Street West between the Ohio River and Van Buren and Jackson Avenues; also includes a small portion of West Huntington from West 28th to 17th streets.)
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell County
EDUCATION: Huntington High School Class of 1990
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Direct Care Staff at Starlight Behavioral Health Services.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: 20 years Retail Management Big Lots.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: West Huntington Organization.
FAMILY: wife, Michelle; daughter, Morgan
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have lived in the west end all my life and I absolutely love it. Yes, it has many problems, but I truly believe that if the community works together we can turn it around. It took many years to get to this point, and it will take some time to turn it around, but we can do it.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
Keys to long-term financing are growing businesses and population. We need to make our city clean, safe, and attractive so people and investors want to relocate here. We should also look at tax incentives for businesses who are willing to move here.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
Some of the biggest problems in District 2 are cleanliness, theft, drugs, prostitution, and abandoned homes. These need immediate attention from the city.
3. Should the city bring back a curbside recycling program? If so, should it be funded with a levy vote or by expanding the county's program?
No. The county's program seems to be adequate.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
To have new housing construction, we must have jobs that pay a living wage that you can raise a family on. The majority of residents can't afford to do the upkeep on their property. We have to make our city clean, safe, and secure, so people want to live and work here.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
We need more officers in the areas that are known for drug activity. We also need to work with county and state officials to make drug laws tougher. I would like to see more prevention programs in our middle and high schools. The way the harm reduction program is ran now, I do not support it.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
The city could allocate more money from its budget to be used with grant and private donations that it receives. I would also like to see them work with the National Guard on demolition like they have in the past. We should also be working with state law makers to streamline the process to make it quicker and easier to tear these down.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
Some of the main reasons I hear that people leave is because crime, taxes, and good jobs. We have to have good paying jobs, other than retail and fast food, for our younger people. We must have more officers on the streets to deter crime, and it would be proactive instead of being reactive all the time.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
More officers on the streets will definitely help decrease crime. I will work closely with community members to identify areas that need to have more of a police presence such as foot patrols. A good neighborhood watch program is also another great way to help deter crime.
9. Do you think staffing levels for the city’s police and fire departments are adequate, too low or too high? If you think changes are needed, how would you accomplish those?
The staffing levels of both departments are dangerously low. An increase in starting pay and a more aggressive recruitment are needed. If a qualified law enforcement officer or fireman is willing to relocate, we should consider helping them with moving expenses. I would also like to see more recruitment of military retirees who qualify for those positions.
10. The state of WV government recently put all finances and purchases online for the public’s review. Do you support a similar thing happening in Huntington?
Absolutely 100%! This needs to happen within the first 6 months of 2021. The city government should be transparent as to what they use the citizens tax dollars on. This will help to ensure that every dollar spent is being spent on what is intended for.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
11. How would you address the problem of loose trash and litter in your district?
By working with the community organizations to obtain volunteers to pick up litter, and to work with code enforcement and public works on bigger issues.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in your district? Why or why not?
Yes if done correctly recovery does work. I do not support using marketers stationed all over the country to bring people here for recovery. We need to heal our own community before we can try to help the rest of the country.
13. What more could be done to encourage businesses to open in the city?
1. The city has to be attractive to the business. 2. We need a clean, safe, and secure city. 3. Reach out to business' and offer them a tax break incentive.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the city’s “Open to All” campaign?
Huntington has always been a welcoming city, but there are always ways to improve, grow, and welcome change. I do not believe in discrimination and do not condone it. I support our constitution that affords, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to ALL.