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Ward 5 council candidates present platforms

WEIRTON — The city will be holding its municipal primary election Tuesday, with registered voters casting ballots for the offices of mayor and all seven members of city council.

There are five candidates filed to fill the seat of Ward 5 councilmember: George Charnie, Richard K. Ford, Jesse Lamone, Flora Perrone and Jonathan Reitter.

The Weirton Daily Times submitted a series of questions to each candidate to help inform the voters of their platforms.

Below are the answers from the city’s uncontested candidates, along with additional information offered.

George Charnie

1. What is your reason for seeking elected office in the city of Weirton?

I honestly believe I can represent the people of Marland Heights in issues pertaining to the city of Weirton. I’m a lifelong resident of Marland Heights. I like living in Weirton and I like living on Marland Heights. Most of all, I like the people of Weirton. I am at a position in life that I know how to get problems solved. In my work I solve problems every day. I believe I can make logical decisions, based on the information given, for the people of Weirton, I believe the City government is here to support, and represent the people that live here and the businesses that operate here. I am eager to represent and assist the people of Marland Heights, as well as the rest of the people of Weirton, to make our City Government the easiest and best City Government to deal with.

2. What do you feel the main focus of the city of Weirton should be over the next 10 years?

Currently Weirton is in a transitional period. We need to work to support the residents and businesses of Weirton. In addition we need to make Weirton the viable choice to new residents and to new businesses that are considering moving into the area. Our City government needs to be proactive in infrastructure, to make sure we can have enough water and sewer capacity to support the new businesses that will be moving into Weirton. We need to make sure our community is well protected by Police, Fire, and Emergency services. We need to do everything we can to make sure our Weirton is as safe as it can be. Technology is changing in the speed of lightning, we need to use technology to better serve our community thorough rapid response, safety of our citizens, and in all areas of City services.

3. What are three goals you have if elected?

I have more than three goals, However the top three would be: To represent the residents of Marland Heights in a manor they would be proud of. To work to beautify Marland Heights and make improvements to the park. And to make sure (until there is a viable alternative) Marland Heights Road is never blocked or closed for any length of time.

4. What improvements/changes do you feel could be made in the city?

When we go on vacation we usually go somewhere that is beautiful. Why not make Weirton one of those beautiful places? Why not trade in our dead space for green space? What is stopping us? Where does it say that an old mill town can’t be beautiful? What ever happened to our tree lined streets? Someone cut the trees down and didn’t plant a tree for the next generation to enjoy. Why do we have to look at a big ugly gravel lot? Why not put in a hedge row to hide our view? We need to start and we need to start now. We need to build this city for the next generation.

Additional information:

I am president of Charnie Insurance a family owned and operated Independent Insurance Agency with offices in Weirton and Pittsburgh. I am a licensed insurance agent in West Virginia, Pennsylvania. Ohio, North Carolina and Maryland. I am a member of The Knights of Columbus Council 3734, (Past Grand Knight) St. Paul’s Holy Name, Weirton Rotary (Past President, Rotarian of the Year) Weirton Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of West Virignia, Independent Insurance Agents of Pennsylvania, WVU Alumni Association (Life Member) Hancock County Sportsman Assoc. NHRA, Good Guys Rod and Custom Assoc. Graduate of St.Paul’s Catholic Grade School, Madonna Catholic High School, West Virginia University College of Business and Economics (BS Finance)

Richard K. Ford

1. What is your reason for seeking elected office in the city of Weirton?

To make things better on Marland Heights and get more things done so that the people that live here will have more enjoyment for their children and themselves.

2. What do you feel the main focus of the city of Weirton should be over the next 10 years?

Progress for the city so that it is moving in the right direction.

3. What are three goals you have if elected?

Recreation, a possible dog park; grocery store and pharmacy; fire station with EMT

4. What improvements/changes do you feel could be made in the city?

Clean up downtown to try and get more businesses to come in. Litter control for the city and Marland Heights.

Jesse Lamone

1. What is your reason for seeking elected office in the city of Weirton?

I have always had a great love for Weirton and Marland Heights. As councilman, I will work hard to improve our community and improve Marland Heights. I will solve problems for people and be the councilman the great people on Marland Heights deserve. I will remain available to everyone to listen to their problems and work with the city to resolve them. I want to apply the same values I lived by as an Army Recon Officer to my representation of Marland Heights and in doing so, provide the people with the best they can get.

2. What do you feel the main focus of the city of Weirton should be over the next 10 years?

The City of Weirton should concentrate on creating a business friendly environment over the next 10 years. We should focus on removing obstacles for potential new industry to move in and set up operations with the minimal amount of cost and operating restriction as possible. Weirton is located within a 500 mile radius of 50 percent of the US population. This is a valuable logistical resource that we must help companies take advantage of to create a rebirth of industry here in Weirton and move our local economy forward. In doing so, we will provide lots of good paying jobs for our people and once again make Weirton a wealthy, thriving community and a great place to raise children.

3. What are three goals you have if elected?

I will explore every possibility for providing an emergency access road on Marland Heights. Significant mass wasting is occurring in the Weirton area causing many roads to split and slide as the hillsides erode. There is a very real possibility of that happening to Marland Heights Road and with thousands of families on the hill, it is unacceptable for there to not be an emergency access road.

I will work with the city and other members of city council to find a solution to our lack of fire fighters. We need additional funding for our Fire Department to hire more people and bring our great Fire Department up the strength it needs to be.

I will work with the city and other members of council to find new ways to combat crime on Marland Heights and the opioid epidemic in Weirton which is the root cause of much of the crime that is occurring.

4. What improvements/changes do you feel could be made in the city?

I think the city would do a great service to the people of Weirton by increasing transparency and doing a better job communicating the city’s agenda, its operations and financials to the people. This should be done on easy to use and understand, single sourced platforms which should include both a properly managed social media site and informational website.

Flora Perrone

1. What is your reason for seeking elected office in the city of Weirton?

Living most of my life in the City of Weirton and raising my children on Marland Heights has given me a deep appreciation for my neighborhood and our community. I have personally always been fascinated by government and feel that being part of city government is my attempt at giving back to this wonderful neighborhood and city that has given so much opportunity to me and my family.

2. What do you feel the main focus of the city of Weirton should be over the next 10 years?

In my opinion, the focus for Weirton over the next ten years should be three fold. Improving our infrastructure, attracting business and jobs and continued improvements to services such as police, fire dept and public works projects.

3. What are three goals you have if elected?

The priorities of Ward 5, Marland Heights, is primarily proactive maintenance of our only access road with new guardrail to accommodate larger SUV vehicles. Secondly, safety with increased visibility of city and county police deptartment. Lastly, working with Parks Board to support and promote our beautiful park.

4. What improvements/changes do you feel could be made in the city?

Weirton is in a transition period and I would like to see a renewed focus on practical improvements to public spaces, planning for future development and increasing the attractiveness of our community to prospective homeowners and business. Also, increasing our internet footprint by showcasing all the fantastic benefits of living and doing business in Weirton.

Additional information:

I was born and raised in Weirton. My father was employed by Weirton Steel for 35 years until his death in 2000. I am a 1990 graduate of Weir High School. I received an Associates in Arts from WVNCC and earned LPN, from EGCC. My husband, Michael, and I have been married for 25 years and have lived on Marland Heights since 2004 where we have truly been blessed to raise our three daughters in this beautiful neighborhood. I have worked in healthcare in the Ohio Valley for the past 25 years, currently as a Clinical Liaison for Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley (now Encompass Health). I am a member of Weirton Heights Rotary, Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce and graduated from Leadership Weirton 2016. My family and I attend Crossroads UMC Church in Oakdale, Pa.

Jonathan Reitter

1. What is your reason for seeking elected office in the city of Weirton?

I am seeking elected office in the city of Weirton because I feel that it is time for men and women of my generation to step up and start taking larger roles in bringing new and fresh ideas to Weirton.

2. What do you feel the main focus of the city of Weirton should be over the next 10 years?

Our main goal over the next 10 years should be development of the old Weirton Steel site, bringing higher paying jobs in, giving our youth a reason to stay locally after high school and college, and continuing to support the police and fire departments.

3. What are three goals you have if elected?

If elected, my three goals are to (1) bring dependable leadership back to the residents of Marland Heights (2) help to regain a sense of community for my fellow residents and (3) bring a new and open-minded perspective to city council meetings.

4. What improvements/changes do you feel could be made in the city?

Our No. 1 concern in the city of Weirton should be addressing our understaffed fire department and bringing them up to state code as well as taking advantage of our many acres of undeveloped land that has great potential for commercial development.

Additional information:

I am 31 years old and a lifelong resident of Marland Heights. I am a 2006 graduate of Brooke High School. I attended both West Virginia Northern Community College and West Liberty University where I studied business and secondary education. I feel as though lessons learned from my late grandfather about the history of our valley have given me the background information necessary to lead Weirton forward for generations to come, rather than continue living in the past.

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