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NAME: Mike Shockley
CANDIDATE FOR: City Council District 7 (includes parts of Walnut Hills and Beverly Hills and a small portion of Fairfield East.)
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: BBA - Marketing Marshall University
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Director of Sales, Delta by Marriott
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Sales – Fabric Town Interiors
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: CVB Board Member
FAMILY: fiancé, Cara Hedrick; son, Chris Shockley; daughter, Savannah Shockley.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am a Huntington native and Marshall University graduate. Huntington will always be my home. I have worked the last four years helping the constituents of district seven get their concerns addressed. Moving forward I wish to continue serving not only the citizens of my district but Huntington as a whole making decisions that positively impact our city.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
I believe growing the economy with the development of the former ACF and BASF properties will grow our tax base. Our partnerships with Marshall University will also continue to grow. There is a need for a Sports Commission in Huntington to provide outside tourism dollars into the city. These outside dollars will stimulate the economy for our retail, restaurants, and hotels.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
Drug activity in certain areas of the district have been reported and are well known. Abandoned homes remain where squatters are in and out. We have demolished several homes and there are more to be taken down in the near future. Lastly, overgrown yards is also an issue, I have worked with Code Enforcement to issue citations.
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?
Curbside recycling is something that needs to be re-considered. The best option would to be to pilot a program before taking it back city wide. Once the success of the pilot program is evaluated it could be placed for a levy vote.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
That step was taken recently by council waiving up to $200,000 in taxes for first time Huntington homeowners. That includes new construction or refurbishing/purchasing homes. This ordinance was put in place to incentivize not only homeowners but contactors as well.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
We need to continue to educate, rehabilitate and show a strong presence with our law enforcement. The Drug Task Force of HPD needs to continue the efforts of making it hard for dealers to do their business here. It takes a strong effort on both sides to reduce the curve.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
Funding. We have allocated CDBG funding for demolition along with anonymous donors to get where we are today. It also can take 12-18 months from the time the paperwork is started until the home comes down. Scott Lemley has been instrumental in getting the funding and getting homes on the list.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
We need to attract businesses that align with degrees offered from Marshall University and keep our students here. Also, with the increase of people being able to work remotely, its time market Huntington as a great place to live and work.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
I will support the recruitment efforts of our HPD and ensure council allocates funding to reach and maintain the goal of 108 officers. Our neighborhood associations are an asset as well. They educate our constituents on how to report crime and look out for one another to keep the streets safe.
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?
They are too low. Both departments are actively recruiting to increase staff levels. A sign-on bonus was implemented to attract certified HPD officers to help increase the staffing numbers. That bonus may need to be increased and would still save the city money overall not paying for police academy costs.
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?
As a Council, we try to be as transparent as we can with the finances of the City. All finance meetings are accessible to the public through Channel 24, and prior to Covid the public could attend meetings. All budget hearings are similarly aired on Channel 24 and on the City’s Facebook page.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
11. How would you address the problem of loose trash and litter in your district?
The neighborhood organizations have done a great job sponsoring clean ups over the past couple of years. If there is an area that needs special attention, as a councilman I would coordinate with the Public Works Department to schedule a sweep as I have done in the past.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in your district? Why or why not?
I do not. I understand there is a need for treatment and recovery but there are commercial districts for that. I have served on Planning and Zoning committee and understand the need to protect the homeowners of District Seven.
13. What more could be done to encourage businesses to open in the city?
First, we need to continue our partnerships with Marshall University to attract employers that align with the programs offered at Marshall. This will give the students an opportunity to stay here and accompany great young talent. We also need to focus on areas such as Gallaher Village & Fourth Avenue and create tax incentives to grow business.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the city’s “Open to All” campaign?
Last years Pride Festival had great success and continues to grow annually. Our city, Convention and Visitors Center and Park Board should help in growing the event annually. This event gives the LGBTQ community a sense of pride in their city and can attract great citizens to relocate here.