(Editor’s Note: Five questions were distributed to each of Wheeling’s 23 candidates and incumbents running for a council seat or for the mayor’s position, and the men and women were invited to offer their answers for publication free of charge. As explained to them, the articles will appear in the order the replies were received.)
Don Atkinson, Incumbent, Ward 5
He was one of nine candidates running for the mayor’s position in 2000, and Don Atkinson finished in third place while businessman Nick Sparachane won his first of two terms in the office.
Eight years later, soon after former councilman Mike Nau decided to end his long run of public service with the city of Wheeling, Atkinson decided that he wanted to represent Ward 5. He also served eight years on the city’s Traffic Commission prior to capturing the Ward 5 council seat.
The 59-year-old Atkinson and his wife, Gail, will celebrate their 30th anniversary in July.
Ward 5 stretches east along National Road from Elm Street in Woodsdale to Lincoln Drive in the Springdale section of Wheeling, and it includes the Edgwood, Pleasanton, and Wheeling Park areas, as well. The fifth ward borders Ward 4 and the sixth ward.
Why have you chosen to run for City Council at this time?
I chose to run for re-election because Wheeling is at a critical point at this time. Since being elected, this council has finally taken the huge, gutsy, controversial steps needed to move Wheeling forward. A new water plant, the pension issue involving the city’s police and fire departments, the repeal of the two-officer-per-cruiser mandate, and the redevelopment of the downtown’s 1100 block are a few examples of the decisions made that have allowed the city to finally move forward toward growth.
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What do you feel are the most critical issues in your ward at this time?
Safety is usually the one critical issue that is expressed to me by residents of Ward 5, and because of the repeal of the two-officer-per-cruiser issue, more patrols are on the road every day.
Another important issue involves the water/sewer problems, and thus far city council has approved sewer separation in the Oakmont/Dimmeydale areas. In 2017, the separation process will be performed in the Edgington Lane/ America Avenue areas.
And, as always, street paving is a concern in Ward 5, and I can proudly say there has been more paving in Ward 5 in the last few years than ever before with much more to come.
How do you feel you can improve the city of Wheeling by representing your ward?
I take great pride in the fact that I am very visible in our community, and I plan to continue to be one of the most visible and accessible councilmen. After being a resident for 30-plus years and having the honor to represent the citizens of Ward 5 for the past eight years, I know how important it is to have access to council members.
If elected, how do you plan to communicate with your constituents?
I always return calls, always go to the areas in question, and I’ve always checked into the issues personally, and I will always do my best to get results accomplished if re-elected.
What is the main message you wish to convey to the voters in your ward?
I will continue to serve the good people of Ward 5 to the best of my ability no matter what the task. I will continue to be their voice and continue to make Ward 5 the safest and best ward in the city while, at the same time, working to move and improve Wheeling’s future.