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NAME: Linda Blough
CANDIDATE FOR: Huntington City Council District 8 (Highlawn neighborhood and a small portion of the downtown area from 18th to 22nd streets between the Ohio River and 8th Avenue.)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Facebook page: Linda Blough for City Council District 8
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: 1980 Graduate Lincoln-way H.S., New Lenox, IL .
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: President, Highlawn Neighborhood Association.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Bath and Body Works, Manager, Houghton, MI.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: President, Highlawn Neighborhood Association, Local organizer, Ohio Riversweep 5 years, Member of Highlawn Alliance, Member of Neighborhood Institute of Huntington.
FAMILY: Husband, Eric Blough, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Marshall University School of Pharmacy; son, Casey, age 18
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have lived in Highlawn for 17 years, and I love our neighborhood! As many people know, I work very hard for the citizens here. I have collaborated with residents, our current councilman Tom McGuffin and others to have abandoned and dilapidated homes addressed and torn down, if necessary. I have organized neighborhood cleanups and picnics, as well as food and clothing drives. I am a volunteer reader at Highlawn Elementary. What makes Highlawn great is its residents, and I my experience will enable me to represent them at a higher level.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
We must continue to aggressively pursue collections for those who are delinquent on taxes and fees. We must continue to make our city attractive to new, innovative, and well-paying businesses
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
Squatters and dilapidated homes that need torn down or brought up to an acceptable condition. This can be accomplished using code enforcement along with building, health department and fire inspections. Compliance must be done in a timely manner or there should be fines imposed and collected.
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?
I absolutely believe we need better access to recycling. Curbside would be optimal, but should be put to a levy vote, and if not approved, we should expand the county program making it more convenient and affordable for residents to bring to a site.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
We need to continue to decrease criminal activity so Huntington can be marketed as a safe place to live for young families and older folks alike.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
I feel that having a variety of medical and other therapeutic treatment options is very helpful in getting people off opioids, but there needs to be thorough oversight of the medical detox facilities and transitional houses. Harm reduction as in the needle exchange must require a strict “give one, get one” policy and data collection that is accessible to the public.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
Continue aggressively pursuing grant funds, and lobby Charleston lawmakers to streamline the process. The property needs a lien placed on it and if it’s not paid within a reasonable amount of time, the property should revert to the city to be sold.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
We need to encourage businesses to come here that will utilize our university graduates and provide well-paying jobs that will encourage growth
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
We need to build relationships between HPD and the community. Foot patrols is one way for an officer to interact personally with residents, but this will be difficult to do until we have adequate staffing in the police department. Continue encouraging our citizens to speak up by using the anonymous tipline.
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. From my understanding they are budgeted to hire more officers but finding proper recruits has been difficult. Financial incentives have recently been offered so that should help.
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. The city has an obligation to show the citizens how their hard-earned money is being spent.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
11. How would you address the problem of loose trash and litter in your district?
Loose trash makes our city look terrible, and encourages rats and other vermin. I think people should be encouraged to put their trash in containers, and anyone with rental property should supply trash cans. We have city codes that address these issues, we need to enforce them. A recycling program would help.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in your district? Why or why not?
There are dozens of seemingly unregulated rehabilitation houses all over the city. If addiction is protected by the Disabilities Act, they should be ADA compliant. Some of them appear to be little more than flophouses. If we are going to have them, there need to be rules and regulations put into place and someone to inspect and monitor them.
13. What more could be done to encourage businesses to open in the city?
We need to focus on the selling points of Huntington. Our university. Our excellent health care facilities. Affordable housing and access to transportation. We could also work on partnerships with the high schools and Marshall to provide mentorship/training programs for a specific industry.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the city’s “Open to All” campaign?
I would hope everyone feels included in our city. I think we have made great strides towards inclusiveness, and the "Open to All" campaign has been influential towards a goal of making all feel welcome in Huntington.