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NAME: Christopher Anastasia
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: https://www.facebook.com/Chris4Huntington/
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: M.A. Marshall University, B.A. McDaniel College.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Business Development Manager at Dutch Miller Chevrolet Hyundai.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Enslow Park Neighborhood Association, Cabell County Young Democrats, Huntington Little League.
FAMILY: children, Megan, Andrew, and Adam.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I love Huntington. It’s where I live, where I work, and where I raise my children. So many improvements have occured in our city, but many challenges loom ahead. Complex problems require novel solutions; something that I have great experience with from my business background. We need a councilperson ready on “Day 1,” and my experience as President of the Enslow Park Neighborhood Association provides me with experience in the type of constituent service and leadership essential for our district’s success. If Elected, I’ll push city government forward with transparency and accountability, as we make our city better, together.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
Long-term stability will only come from expanding our tax-base, with the tax income from those additional homeowners and businesses used to sustain and expand our public services. For too long, our size and location have been seen as detrimental to growth, but in a decentralized, digital economy, our natural beauty and growing amenities will prove vital to promoting expansion.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
From talking to people in my district, we must improve the safety in the city. Helping to recruit more law enforcement officers and cracking down on residential speeding is a must. We must add value to residents who invest in homes and property, and curb-side recycling is a great way to express that commitment.
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?
Yes! Curbside recycling makes a statement that our city is committed to a cleaner environment, and that we are a community with progressive emnaties. These features are huge assets for attracting and retaining homeowners. It also aids in flood prevention. I’d prefer attempts to expand the county program, which gives us time and means to educate and implement.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
After consulting with realtors and local experts, the home stock seems adequate, in comparison to neighboring areas. While everyone likes new and modern, I’d like to continue to push for renovation to older homes, which help to maintain the character and charm of our neighborhoods.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
I fully support it, because it's supported by medical professionals and 1st responders. It’s proof of the way we must lead; being transparent and accountable. Bringing stakeholders to the table and coming up with a shared solution is successful leadership. We must expanding our police force, continue the harm reduction program, and continue to monitor treatment agencies.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
I fully support the implementation of placards to identify vacant properties, along with the registry of dilapidated structures. The legal complexities are not insignificant, so the registry provides vital information to 1st responders and to those who share a neighborhood with said properties. Shining a bright light on these properties is the only way to get them renovated or removed.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
We must improve and promote the value of living in our city. We have a perception problem, which comes down to marketing. We need to better highlight our value to businesses and homebuyers. Our focus cannot just be restaurants and stores, but the great, safe, and welcoming neighborhoods, like those that make up District 6.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
The Huntington Police Department should be commended for significantly decreasing crime rates in the last 4 years. They need more qualified recruits. We should work with community colleges to create a law enforcement curriculum to help develop a career pipeline for young people, both locally and region-wide. We should also look to verteran’s groups as a potential hiring source.
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?
We have to work within budgetary constraints, but we have the room currently for more qualified applicants to both the Fire & Police Departments. We need to work with the community college and University system to create an educational pipeline to help give young people another career pathway and help to specifically culture and shape the skills needed.
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. Transparency is essential for growth. In an era where people get their news from social media as much as from traditional journalism, we need clear information coming out. The more residents understand and can see the financial constraints that the city faces, the sooner we can focus on realistic and incremental improvements that will have long-lasting benefit to all.