WOLFE / WILLIAMS ON ISSUES FACING CITY: Responses from Marie Redd Center Forum
First, neither candidate favors privatization of garbage collection. They agree the workers are among the city’s best.
On union agreements with city workers , Wolfe asked for patience considering the city’s inherited financial woes that dominated his first term. Council approved a contract with the FOP, but it did not contain a pay raise.
“We signed a contract with the police department [and] made an identical offer to the fire department. I’ll continue to work (with the fire department and public works employees) ,” the Mayor said.
Williams observing the national landscape is re-shaping the role of unions in the nation stated, “Public (civil service) unions are under attack nationwide. We have the opportunity with all three bargaining units to work together and deliver a cost efficient product… this exceptional city could show how labor , business and city work together.”
Refusing to in his words “box myself in by a [ contract ]timeline,” Williams stressed “everybody deserves dignity and certainty in a career.”
When asked about state law that allows some civil service employees to “double dip” for retirement benefits by working twenty years then taking another job, Wolfe stressed that “pensions are earned and well deserved.”
On the other hand , Williams said, “I have a problem with people leaving their position then taking a job with another entity.” He called this a “legislative problem” over which “the city has no control.”
AD LEWIS POOL
WOLFE: “We will make sure that it is funded [next year].”
WILLIAMS: “A.D. Lewis is integral to this community. We must make sure we are taking care of our children.” Specifically, “We are going to fund it Sandy (Clements) yo won’t allow it to go by (council) without funding.”
COAL AND CLEAN ENERGY
WOLFE: “We need to see if there are gas reserves (in Huntington).” Regarding coal, “we have the largest inland port in America. We have to balance coal and green energy.”
WILLIAMS: Recognizing that Huntington is the “gateway to the southern WV coal fields, [we have to] work with Marshall University’s “cutting edge research” on forms of energy exploration --- wind, water, or other clean energy.
CRIME & FAIRFIELD
WOLFE: “We are not putting too much emphasis here. Think back four years. We’re working in the West End. First priority of government is to protect its citizens.
WILLIAMS: “Look at where we have been. We have made progress,” citing the Weed & Seed and housing demolition program. “As we improve, this will be the gateway in to Huntington.”
ALLEGED POLICE MISCONDUCT
WOLFE: “We have the finest Police Department administrator of any in America. I assure you incidents have been fully investigated and steps taken…
WILLIAMS: “I’ve known Chief Holbrook for 40 years. He’s second to none. I’m not going to say it’s not happening. Holbrook has helped repair past breaches [but] police brutality, misconduct, and racism will not be tolerated. I will work with you to stamp it out.”
MARSHALL EMPLOYEE SALARIES INCREASES
WOLFE: “Don’t you think this [question] should be made to the Board of Governors? We have been working with Marshall University to bring down crime to attract more students.
WILLIAMS: “I am intimately familiar with the [historic] salary discrepancies between Marshall and WVU, when I was a member of the WV legislature, I insisted MU be compared with peer universities…[but involvement] is not something the Mayor’s office can do, other than advocate and articulate.
JOBS NOT SPEECHES FOR NON PROFESSIONALS
WOLFE: “Continue with what we have been doing by providing atmosphere for entrepreneurs to bring small business jobs to the city.”
WILLIAMS: “We have to create opportunities for small business employment and [opportunities] for access to capital. Lift expectations and demand excellence. TIF targets business development in this area.
STORM WATER FLOODING
WOLFE: “We have an ancient storm water and sewer system. It’s going to require renovation and a revenue source.” On viaduct flooding, “We need a resoivier holding tank…”
WILLIAMS: “This has to do with all of us. We have to create a [storm water] revenue source. We have big decisions to make next year.”