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NAME: William “Bill” A. Dawson Jr.
CANDIDATE FOR: Huntington City Council District 6 (The largest geographic council district in the city. It includes portions of the Southside and South Hills area above Ritter Park, Enslow Park, several streets off of Washington Boulevard, sections of Walnut Hills and Beverly Hills, Stamford Park and streets off of Norway Avenue to the city's eastern boundary.)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: billdawsonforhuntington.com
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Political Science – Marshall University; Juris Doctorate – Florida Coastal School of Law.
CURRENT OFFICE OR ORGANIZATION: Attorney at Campbell Woods, PLLC
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Previously employed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as a Law Clerk for Judge Alfred Ferguson; prior to employment with Campbell Woods, I was self employed practicing as an attorney in WV and FL.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: CONTACT Rape Crisis Center – Board of Directors, Executive Committee; Help for Animals – Board of Directors.
FAMILY: Single, no children.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: Having been born and raised in Huntington, I have always considered Huntington my home and its residents my family. I believe it’s the residents that are Huntington’s greatest asset. With the collective efforts of Huntington’s residents, local businesses, and civic organizations Huntington has unlimited potential to be a town of which we can all be proud to call home. I believe, that given my background, resources and personal connections with the community, I can help facilitate Huntington’s advancement into the future.
1. What are your suggestions for long-term financing of Huntington’s government?
Every individual or entity (corporation, government, etc.) has a limited amount of resources with which it may meet its needs. In order to best ensure the financial stability of Huntington, it is imperative to avoid unnecessary spending. I will review every request for money before the council and spare no effort to ensure that any allocation of funds be financially sound.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
The opioid crisis and the crime that it brings plague district 6 just as it does the rest of Huntington. Our aging infrastructure (roads, utilities, etc.) is also a significant problem in district 6.
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?
The cost of such service weighs significantly on whether it should be provided at this time. I am for curbside recycling, but only at reasonable cost. I would prefer to fund such a service with a levy vote, as that gives some say to the residents as to whether the service is worth the cost to them individually.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
The best way to encourage new housing construction is to clear areas of the city which are inundated with vacant and dilapidated houses to create larger tracts of lands which are in turn more attractive to residential developers. With so many dilapidated homes scattered throughout the city, residential construction is inhibited due to the appearance of those neighborhoods.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
I would make every effort to ensure that Huntington’s first responders are fully staffed, properly trained, and adequately equipped for their job. I would explorer all avenues to ensure that those who seek help, receive it through properly trained mental health professionals. I support the harm reduction program as it reduces the spread of diseases collateral to this crisis.
6. What more could be done to tear down dilapidated houses?
Huntington and its leaders have made great efforts to try and resolve the dilapidated housing issue in the recent past through the passage of various statutes, ordinances, etc. However, continued enforcement needs to follow. Perhaps the review of similar situated municipalities and their respective efforts to cure such housing problems would prove beneficial to solving this problem.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
As a Huntington native who resided out-of-state, I can tell you that the reason I left was the lack of opportunity. We need to make Huntington attractive to those starting their careers. We need to do whatever we can to attract jobs to the area and encourage businesses to work with schools in training and recruitment of Huntington’s younger residents.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
I will ensure that the police department is fully staffed so that there are enough police officers available to adequately patrol the city. I will actively work towards developing a dialogue between the council and residents of the various neighborhoods to hear their concerns as they relate to crime and to ensure that those concerns are addressed.
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?
I believe that that the staffing levels for Huntington’s police are low. I would review the budgets of the respective departments to determine if there were any adjustments that could be made to free more money for the hire of additional officers. The fire department, regardless of staff needs, has its issues that would warrant the same type of review.
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?
Yes, I support any and all measures that would lead to a more informed constituency, and, while available to the public via other means, the availability of all finances and purchases online would provide such information conveniently to the public.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
11. How would you address the problem of loose thrash and litter in your district?
Due to the abundance of residential neighborhoods and lack of commercial (urban) areas, loose trash and litter is not the quite the problem in District 6 that is in other areas of the city. However, I know loose trash and litter is a concern of every Huntington resident because an attractive, well-kept city is vital to attracting new residents and businesses vital to its future success.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in your district? Why or why not?
No, I do not support rehabilitation housing in District 6! While I believe that rehabilitation housing provides a vital service to the local area, especially in light of the Opioid Crisis, I do not think that they, generally, should be located in residential neighborhoods.
13. What more could be done to encourage business to open in the city?
The first thing the City needs to do to encourage business to open in the city is to make itself more aesthetically attractive to prospective business. The recent renovation efforts in and around Pullman Square need to be expanded to include 4th and 5th Avenues and 10th through 16th Streets.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the City's "Open to All" campaign?
The "Open to All" campaign, and more appropriately, those community leaders who have worked to promote an inclusive environment are to be commended for their efforts, as it is apparent that the city is more "open" to diversity than ever before. Those efforts could be for reinforced by offering seminars/presentations for local businesses demonstrating the economic benefits of being an inclusive and/or diverse business.