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Three challenge Republican mayor in Parkersburg primary election

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 7, 2020 at 7:35 PM EDT
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Republican and incumbent Mayor Tom Joyce has three primary challengers this spring; Mike Cottrell, Mark Meredith and Byron Meeks.

Joyce, who first took office four years ago, says he has proven himself a capable mayor. He says he works well with city council and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, says he has been more focused on his work than getting re-elected.

He says the city has done a record amount of paving during his tenure, and he’s proud of the work that’s been done to city parks.

His first priority if re-elected will be to help local businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The first priority for whoever is mayor in January of 2021, the first priority is going to have to be doing everything we can to promote and support a positive business climate, particularly in regard to small business. Those folks have been hit the hardest by this pandemic,” said Joyce.

He says local support will be the key to economic recovery in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Joyce says he supports youth programs in the area as a way of reducing drug addiction in Parkersburg. He says averting the youth is the best way to beat it.

Among those challenging Joyce is Byron Meeks, a local business owner.

Meeks lives on Lynn Street. He says he is running as a way of standing up for his community.

He says there is a lot of need in his neighborhood, but no one will speak up for the people there.

As a way of giving back to his community, he says if he is elected, he will give back roughly 75 percent of his mayoral salary.

However, his main goal as mayor is to “straighten up corruption in the town.”

“You know, city code wants to come in and shut down small businesses instead of trying to help them. That’s what they’re for, is to help people, not to harass them, not to fine them. Shoot, we pay our taxes, we pay their payroll, you know they should be out their to help people, not shut them down,’ said Meeks.

Meeks spoke on some of the dilapidated houses in the area. He says he would rather see them fixed up for reuse than torn down.

Mike Cottrell is also running for mayor.

It’s his first time running for public office, but he has some experience working with city officials. For many years, he helped organized Parkersburg Homecoming.

Cottrell says he’s running for mayor to clean up the streets and give a greater voice to residents.

“The city answers to the residents, it’s not the other way around and that became paramount in my campaign, to represent our residents, get the streets back in their control basically. It’s our hometown, we are one," said Cottrell.

Cottrell says he has a plan to reduce drug addiction in the city in two phases, starting with cutting off any supply of illicit drugs in the city. He didn’t elaborate much, noting he wanted to save details for later.

Also at the forefront of Cottrell’s mind is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. He says the next 24 to 36 months will require a focus on “economic redevelopment.” Once things are built back up, he wants to make Parkersburg friendly to new business.

Mark Meredith is the final of the three Republicans challenging Mayor Tom Joyce in this spring’s primary.

One of his main goals as mayor would be to clean up abandoned houses around Parkersburg.

He says eliminating some of the vacant houses in the area may help curve illicit drug use; by eliminating places where they are used.

He also wants to expand tourism in Parkersburg.

“Parkersburg is a river town. That’s how Parkersburg grew. So if we’re not taking advantage of that natural resource, that’s right next to us, then we’re really missing out. There’s a lot of tourism opportunities and tourism jobs being created just by using that river right next to us,” said Meredith.

Meredith has all ready been in contact with tourism companies about expanding possibilities in the area.

He says he has also tried to learn more about how to tackle addiction in the area by speaking with experts.

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