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Steve Novotney Says, "Seidler First to Step Up"

Wheeling Island resident Ben Seidler already announced on "Steve Novotney Live" that he's running to become the Wheeling council representative in Ward 2, a district that includes the Island, parts of downtown and North Wheeling, and the Fulton/Glenwood neighborhoods.

The next municipal election in Wheeling will not be staged until May 2020, so Seidler is out even earlier than what the mayor and two other council members perpetrated in May 2015. The current representative is Ken Imer, the only incumbent who proved victorious more than two years ago, and it is unknown if he plans to run for re-election at this time.

Seidler has explained why he announced so early, and it's simply to be proactive with issues he's already identified: lack of code enforcement; vacant lot accountability; criminal activity; and infrastructure. He's been very active on social media, urging citizens to cast ballots in favor of funding a new public safety building for the fire and police departments, and also with a, "Lights On, Crime Out" campaign to ward off would-be robbers.

A dependence of communicating on social media, however, is a mistake that has been made by the current council members, and it's one that Seidler needs to avoid because the median age of Wheeling residents is currently 49. The city has dropped in population ever since the 1940s and that decline has not yet stopped, but there are many senior citizens who remain here and are not members of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Me: "Hey Dad, want me to help you set up your Facebook?"

Father: "What the hell is a Facebook?"

Me: It's a social media platform on which people communicate with each other."

Father: "Who am I going to communicate with? All our friends are dead."

When the man makes a point, he makes a good point, and it's been that way my entire life.

Me: "What if I sent you a message on Facebook?"

Father: "Just come over or call me."

And I do call my parents with whatever announcements I see on the ward pages because much of the information is not shared any other way. Updates on power outages, lost dog notifications and assistance, breaking and entering incidents, community meetings, traffic and parking information, and crime watch schedules are often shared on those Internet pages, but the information is lost for those who are not Facebook users.

Seidler must avoid such alienation, and that's exactly what he is doing with a community meeting at Pickles Eatery and Bar on Nov. 13th at 6:30 p.m. Some may refer to such a town-hall setting as "old fashioned," but hey, old school works in a city in which half of the residents are older than 49 years old.

"That's something I have thought about," he explained. "Right now, those platforms are what I have been using, but as this campaign continues I will reach out as far as I need to talk to the people who live in Ward 2. This isn't about just Wheeling Island, and that's very important to me. I feel the community meeting in Fulton to be the beginning.

"If we're going to get our property values back up, and increase the interest with living in Ward 2, it's going to take everyone," he said. "I am determined and I hope I find a lot of others who are, too."

There are less than 600 days until the city of Wheeling 's municipal election, and at this point in time the only candidate who has announced is Seidler. On the record, no one knows if the mayor, or any of the council members plan to run for re-election for another four years of service, and that includes Mr. Imer.

It's been a tumultuous 18 months for the mayor and council, however, with the reactions to the approvals of higher parking meter fines and of an ordinance mandating a three-story-building limit within the downtown district – and that's not to mention the Great Two-Way Debate that wasn't, truly, much of a debate, at all.

No means no, ya know?

"I announced this early so I could get started addressing the issues that are obvious in all of the neighborhoods in Ward 2," Seidler confirmed. "And I'll be counting on the residents to point out the issues that aren't that obvious."

Categories: Commentary