2nd Ward race: Incumbent challenged
Two city natives are vying for the 2nd Ward post on Marietta’s City Council in the Nov. 5 general election.
Republican James “Chip” Wilson, 54, an architect, is making his first bid for public office, challenging Democrat incumbent Mike McCauley who has previously served a total of 12 years as city councilman.
“I’ve never run for or held a public office, but I have strong political views and have always voiced them,” Wilson said. “Now I think it’s time for me to step forward and bring my views to the table to try and bring some betterment to the community.”
He said he knows most of the current council members and considers them all as good representatives.
“But I also believe there needs to be someone presenting an opposing view on issues facing council when needed,” Wilson said. “I know you can’t always get your way, but the process should be to work through issues by talking them out.”
One of the city’s biggest problems is a lack of planning, he said. And as an architect that’s something he could contribute to council.
“There’s no forward-looking vision,” Wilson said. “In the past the city has had goals and plans to meet those goals, but I don’t get the sense that we have that now. It seems we’re always following the grant money, but I know all grants come with strings attached and you have to justify everything you do.”
Although he’s running to represent the 2nd Ward, Wilson said his biggest concern is attracting more businesses throughout the city.
“The heavy industries that supported Marietta have been gradually going away for years, and those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said. “And we can’t replace those with jobs in the fast-food industry.”
Wilson said the city should be taking a closer look at attracting more businesses related to the growing oil and natural gas industries in this area.
“We have good building sites, river, rail and highway transportation,” he said. “And targeting industries and businesses to those areas is something the city can work on with the county, Main Street Marietta, Southeastern Port Authority and others.”
Wilson does support a proposed city revitalization district, most of which would be located in the downtown area of the 2nd Ward.
State code allows cities like Marietta to establish a revitalization district with restaurants and entertainment facilities in an effort to promote economic growth. But a Marietta district would also make up to 15 new liquor licenses available in the area, which has become a point of contention with current liquor license holders.
“I absolutely support the revitalization district,” Wilson said. “And government shouldn’t shield established businesses from new competition. As an architect I know that if you get enough good restaurants, you’ll draw more people to town.”
McCauley also supports a revitalization district.
“I’ve always promoted continued economic development in the city,” he said, noting the downtown area is Marietta’s core for locally-owned businesses.
“The 2nd Ward covers downtown, the Frontier Shopping Center, and surrounding historic residential districts,” McCauley said. “And downtown Marietta is what helps make our city unique.”
As current chairman of council’s water, sewer, and sanitation committee he’s been involved with the ongoing multi-million-dollar wastewater treatment plant upgrade.
“We’re now in the second phase, and the third phase of the project is going into design,” he said. “But before the project could begin we had to have an inter-governmental agreement with Washington County. And we had to show a revenue stream to help pay for the project.”
McCauley said one result of the inter-governmental agreement with the county has been to generate part of that revenue stream by connecting service lines to the Devola and Oak Grove areas.
“I’ve studied a lot to keep up with the wastewater treatment plant project, and want to see it through to completion,” he said. “I don’t think it’s good to change horses in midstream, and hope voters will let me continue with this project.”
One of McCauley’s major undertakings over the last couple of years is a wellhead protection ordinance designed to shield the city’s nine drinking water wells, located between the Washington County Fairgrounds and the Marietta Shrine Club, from pollution.
“The ordinance may still need some tweaking, but I expect it will eventually go through council without much problem,” he said.
To help develop the wellhead ordinance McCauley said he called on various other cities to see what they had done to protect their water sources rather than “re-invent the wheel.”
“I have no problem contacting other towns to draw on their expertise when we’re considering a project,” he said. “I believe in networking with other communities.”
McCauley’s list of accomplishments as both a past and current councilman includes support of the Armory Square renovation project; initiation of the River Trail project as a past lands, buildings and parks committee chairman; completion of the Marietta Aquatic Center project; support of the Colony Theater restoration project with Community Development Block Grant funding; and, as current special utilities committee chairman, helped develop a new contract with Rumpke waste haulers with extras at no increased cost to residents.