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City of Wheeling Candidate Forum on Child and Family Issues

Candidates+converse+with+citizens+about+the+topic+of+housing.+
Candidates converse with citizens about the topic of housing.

If you have been paying attention to the various yard signs and billboards occupying every street corner, or have even looked outside your front door in the past couple of weeks, you can reasonably infer that there is an upcoming Wheeling election. Although voters can vote for council members, sheriff, house of delegates, and many more positions, the most anticipated election is the race for mayor of Wheeling. This will be the first time in eight years that Wheeling will see a new mayor, as Wheeling’s current mayor, Glenn Elliot, cannot run for a third term.

 Mr. Stanton is a CP and AP Civics teacher who also teaches the History of Wheeling class at Wheeling Park High School. He explains the importance of local elections.

“[Local elections] are probably how you can make the biggest impact,” said Mr. Stanton. ” 

“You’re voting for people actually living in your community that you can run into and you can see out and about. They are gonna be making changes that you can actually see in your neighborhood”

— Mr. Stanton

.”

One of the major pros of local elections is that you get to speak to candidates and discuss ideas face-to-face. At the City of Wheeling Candidate Forum on Child and Family Issues event on April 10th, Wheeling city council and mayor candidates were given the opportunity to engage in conversation with voters on three different subjects in a round-table discussion. The three topics were Childcare, Housing, and Population Retention in Wheeling. Candidates were placed at tables with members of the community and given fixed questions and times to respond. The mayor candidates present were Carl Carpenter, Beth Hinebaugh, Rosemary Ketchum, Chad Thalman, and J.T. Thomas. By listening and talking to these mayor candidates, I was able to gain a thorough understanding of each of their stances on these issues and what initiatives they will push for, if elected mayor. As an 18-year-old and a first-time voter, the opportunity to converse with these candidates was very refreshing and informative.

The first topic of the night was childcare in Wheeling and the funding, participation, and advocacy needed to improve the current childcare system. Valid issues were raised about Childcare facilities and employment.

“The employers do not have employees,” Mayor Candidate Beth Hinebaugh said.” If they do not have employees, then the businesses cannot stay open. It’s an absolute circle and complete cycle.”

Mayor Candidate Chad Thalman and City Council Candidate Ty Thorngate address the work they have done in the past with installing and funding city parks and playgrounds as free places for children to play outside.

“We renovated about 30 parks and playgrounds because young families and kids love parks and playgrounds,” said Mayor Candidate Chad Thalman. “We invested in our neighborhoods where people live by paving streets, alleys, parks, and playgrounds.”

The second topic addressed was Housing opportunities in Wheeling, specifically for families. Buying or renting a home can be extremely expensive, especially for low-income families. According to NPR, America is facing a major housing crisis. Points have been brought up on how people can end up being “scammed” when trying to rent or lease homes.

“A lot of people get scammed through rent-to-own and lease-to-buy situations for homes,” said Mayor Candidate Rosemary Ketchum. “People feel like it’s their only option if they have bad credit, then they’re only in worse shape. The eviction process will impact your credit score and make you ineligible to move into other potential low-income housing. It’s a desperate situation.”

One way to combat housing issues is to keep an open mind and listen to members of the community. Regarding housing, Mayor Candidate J.T. Thomas provides insight.

“I think we need to listen to each other more than talk at each other,” said Mayor Candidate J.T. Thomas.

Population retention is the final topic of the evening. Marketing the city, creating walkable neighborhoods, and expanding employment options are some of the vital points of emphasis when retaining young people in Wheeling. As a current high school senior who is about to leave Wheeling for college, this topic is extremely important to me, along with many other young Wheeling residents. I often find myself asking what resources Wheeling offers, compared to other surrounding cities, that will allow me to prosper after my time at college.  While some argue that Wheeling needs to focus on economic expansion to grow and expand the city for young people, others believe that Wheeling should utilize its resources on current infrastructure.

“Population retention depends on economic opportunity,” Mayor Candidate, Carl Carpenter said. “However, I feel that the City of Wheeling deliberately puts undue burdens on its citizens and encourages people not to stay here. Rather than pose unnecessary hardships, I think the city ought to realize that it is just a small town and it ought to be an easy and good place to live, not a hard place.”

As a first-time voter, having the experience to witness and participate in the City of Wheeling Candidate Forum on Child and Family Issues was incredibly helpful and impactful as an entrance into the world of voting. Young people, specifically, should get involved in their community and use their voice by voting. If you are 18 or older, make sure to register to vote by pulling up to your local polling station on May 14th.

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About the Contributor
Shannon Wack
Shannon Wack, Staff Writer
  • Journalism I
  • Senior
  • I am a member of the Varsity Volleyball team, a Key Club officer, a REAP counselor, a Freshman mentor, and an employee at Oglebay
  • I love baking and making cookies, finding crawdads, playing with all animals and insects, and doing paint-by-numbers.
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