HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.
Read more responses from candidates by clicking on the links at right. Candidates who have not received a questionnaire can send an email to acopley@HDMediaLLC.com with their name, candidacy and phone number.
NAME: Tom McCallister
CANDIDATE FOR: Huntington Mayor
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Huntington High School/WV National Guard.
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Retired.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Former Member of Huntington City Council.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Huntington City Charter Board.
FAMILY: wife, the late Frieda; children, Tommy, John Wayne (Gina), Kelly (Mike); grandson, Thomas.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: As life-long Huntingtonian, I have watched Huntington grow and change for 79 years. If Huntington continues to deteriorate as it has under this administration, it will be a shadow of its former self. Our city has been besieged by strangers from afar and decimated by illegal drugs. We must reclaim Huntington before its too late. My plan is to immediately implement measures to remove these destructive forces and get Huntington back on track. As a founding member of the Huntington City Charter Board, I know what it takes to move the city forward. With your vote we can do this together.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
WV has an unlimited natural resource in natural gas that hasn’t been fully utilized. Huntington needs to take the lead. WV has adopted legislation for the use of medical marijuana. With Huntington’s home rule I would explore the possibility of legalizing both medical and recreational use with a city run dispensary. Marijuana sales have proved successful in other states.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
Regarding infrastructure, this administration has allowed the city to deteriorate to the point of almost no return. Blight and allowing rif -raf from other states and cities to besiege Huntington to the point our once fair city is beginning to resemble a third world country.
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 should not be brought back. China has ceased to take our recyclables, so there is no market for it. If council should decide to pass this by ordnance, I would not sign the document. Tax payers can’t stand another frivolous fee to make a few people feel good.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
We need to repopulate the city with people and jobs. Unfortunately, the service industry (restaurants, etc..) is not the answer. We need jobs in manufacturing and high- tech industries. We can work our way out of this situation.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
I absolutely do not support harm reduction programs. The city is in the shape it’s in because of these types of programs. The needle exchange program is a prime example. It is an abstract failure. The solution to the problem is to enforce ordinances already on the books.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
I have suggested a solution in the past. We could use a modified continuous miner to take down dilapidated structures. Then take the rubble to the former land fill and use an air curtain incinerator to dispose of most of the material. The hardened material (bricks, concrete, etc…) could be crushed and recycled for road work projects.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
We would have to offer quality jobs and living conditions. My administration would reduce unnecessary taxes and fees and replace the revenue from other inventive sources. We need to reclaim Huntington.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
I don’t necessarily believe there is a reduction in current crime. Skewed statistics make it appear crime is down. We need to look at this issue realistically. We need strict enforcement of our city codes in addition to having a force multiplier used to enhance number in the police department.
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 had vacancies in both departments for years. Council has authorized the Police Department staff to 111. Those positions have never been filled. All authorized positions need to be filled immediately.
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?
I absolutely support making all records available online for total transparency for the public to view. My administration will follow the WV state code: 29B- 1-1, which is the freedom of information act. The city charter has similar provisions and they need to be followed.