Candidates For Marlinton Mayor Share The Stage For Meet The Candidates Forum
Marlinton, WV – Candidates for Mayor and Town Council for the Town of Marlinton gathered for a Meet the Candidates forum in Marlinton last week. The forum, sponsored by Go Marlinton and the Pocahontas Times newspaper, drew a small but engaged crowd to the Opera House in Marlinton. In this story we’ll hear from the candidates for Mayor, Dennis Driscoll and Joseph Smith.
Rachel Tompkins and John Simmons served as moderators for the forum. After Simmons explained the format for the debate, the Mayoral candidates were given a chance to introduce themselves. Current Mayor Dennis Driscoll is first, followed by the other candidate for Mayor, Councilman Joseph Smith.
“I’ve lived here in the community for 16 years” says Driscoll. “I’ve been the building inspector and assistant to Dotty [Kellison] when she was the Mayor, and I’ve been your Mayor for the last four years.”
“My name is Joseph Smith, I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve been on the [town] council on and off for a total of eighteen years” says Smith. “And in that period of time I’ve served numerous times as acting Mayor. I believe in this community and feel like we can move forward.”
After the introductions, Driscoll and Smith were asked about their economic plan for the town. Here is Driscoll’s reply.
“On an individual basis, I have worked with people who have bought and opened businesses and this is the way we have to work” says Driscoll. “There is no easy fix to economic development here. Our location does not jump out and say let’s build something here so we can make something. Let’s build something so that we can make jobs.”
Driscoll says they been much more successful with convincing local businesses to reinvest in the town to create more economic growth. Smith says he agrees there’s no easy answer to this problem.
“But we can develop our community to entice people to come to our community” says Smith. “I don’t think our location is a big detriment to us. I feel that our main goal needs to be develop a community that will entice people and make them want to come here; the work force is in Pocahontas County, it’s just that we need small industries that employs 20 to 40 people will be a big boon to us.”
The candidates were asked whether or not they think the Marlinton Flood wall will ever be built and what Marlinton residents can do to protect their property in the meantime. Again, for this question, Driscoll was the first to answer.
“The answer to the first part is I don’t feel it will ever be built” he says. “At a cost of 200 million dollars I don’t see the federal government giving that kind of money to build a flood wall in Marlinton. I have been involved with this with the Army Corps of Engineers since I was appointed building inspector about 14 years ago.”
“What can we do other than this? At this point, hope we don’t have another flood. And I know that does not sound good, but it’s all we have.”
Smith disagrees with Driscoll about the flood wall project.
“I think the flood protection for Marlinton is in the making, I think we’re closer now than we’ve ever been” he says. “The Town of Marlinton has in place the matching fair share of the project, thanks to our state government. It’s been a long drawn out process; I’ve suffered through like most town residents and lost most everything I’ve ever owned to major floods. The residents of the town of Marlinton needs to hold tight; we cannot back down. If anybody pulls out of this project, it has to be the Corps.”
Smith says if the Corps of Engineers pulls the plug, the Town will be in a better position to ask for disaster relief should the need arise.
The two candidates also disagree on the best way to enforce town ordinances. Driscoll says the only way to do this is to rebuild the town police force. Currently the town contracts with the West Virgnia State Police for part time patrolling of the town. Smith says the current system is working, and that the cost of reestablishing a town police force is much too high.
Tune in for noon hour on Tuesday, May 31st to hear from the candidates for Marlinton Town Council.