Once he officially retired as an employee for the city of Wheeling, Dave Palmer knew he wished to continue serving the public in some way.
It just seemed natural.
Initially, Palmer launched a campaign as a Democrat for the W.Va. House of Delegates because one seat representing his native Third District was opening because of a lawmaker’s decision to switch political parties and run for a Senate position. Palmer, one of three Democrats on the primary ballot, did not advance to the general in November 2014.
Palmer, a lifelong resident of the Elm Grove area, then set his sights on Wheeling’s City Council because he expected Vice Mayor and Ward 6 councilman Gene Fahey to file to run to become the Friendly City’s next mayor. Once Fahey announced his decision, Palmer quickly announced his own.
“The seat was being vacated, and it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t while I was still employed by the city,” Palmer explained. “But I felt it was a natural fit because I felt I knew the neighborhoods, I knew the people, and I was aware already of a lot of the issues in Ward 6 because I’ve lived my entire life there.
“I am looking forward to working with the residents so I can address the issues that they may have. I say ‘address’ because I already know that there are some problems that I will not be able to fix,” he continued. “But I am confident that we can make the ward an even better place than it is already.”
Palmer was contested in Ward 6, a district that includes half of the Springdale area, Elm Grove, and the portion of Wheeling that extended into Marshall County, by Dalton Haas. Palmer claimed victory 906 to 477.
One point Palmer made very clear during his campaign concerned the municipality’s playgrounds and ballfields. Moving forward, the soon-to-be councilman plans to address the issue in wise fashion.
“If there is money for council to spend, let’s not just spend it. Let’s spend it very wisely by spending it on facilities that we know will be utilized,” Palmer said. “We can’t make the people go to the playgrounds, so that is something we must keep in mind when addressing those facilities.
“I’ve also talked with a lot of the residents about what issues they have like street paving and sidewalks, and there are concerns about certain areas of the ward,” he continued. “It mostly about services that the city is responsible for, and we have a lot of great folks who work for the city, and that’s who makes sure those services are available.”
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Palmer’s professional career includes more than 30 years as an employee of Ohio County and the city of Wheeling. Initially, Palmer was an Ohio County Sheriff’s deputy, then a Wheeling police officer, and then he served as a Friendly City firefighter for 25 years. Following his retirement from the fire department, he became the city’s Code Enforcement Officer.
“Because of my career I have a lot of experience with the laws on the books and also the codes and ordinances that are in place at this time,” Palmer explained. “In my opinion, as a council member you have to know those things, and you also have to know how they are enforced, or if they are not enforced in the city of Wheeling.
“Now, I disagree with some of what I have heard recently about selective enforcement. It’s my belief that our folks try to enforce everything and enforce those laws fairly. I really do,” he continued. “I have a lot of experience with the city, but I know there are areas of the operation where I am not too familiar with some things so, I look forward to learning about the water department and also with the things that have changed with the fire and police departments. I believe we are all approaching this with an eagerness to learn as much as possible.”
Since winning the council position nearly one month ago, Palmer has joined his colleagues in several meetings, and he has also reviewed what has been accomplished during the past eight years. One document, he said, each of the new members can receive is the state-mandated Comprehensive Plan that was completed and approved in late 2014.
“It’s very new to almost all of this, and that’s why we’ve already started having meetings with city officials and department heads. I’ve also been reviewing the most recent Comprehensive Plan for the city’s future,” Palmer said. “It’s not our intention to allow anything to just sit on a shelf because there is a lot of amazing information within that document.
“I believe I understand the platforms of all of the other new candidates, and I believe we are all aware of where Wheeling has been and where it can go in the future,” he said. “During my career with the city of Wheeling I have lived through the bad times, but now I see Wheeling coming back. Our job is to keep that momentum moving forward, and that’s why we all plan to spend a lot of time learning as much as we can.”
(Cover photo by Steve Novotney; additional photos supplied by Mr. Palmer)