He went to bed as a Dimmeydale kid knowing his father and brother could be in harm’s way during his slumber, and that was because dad was a firefighter, and his brother Greg was a member of the Wheeling Police Department.
So, as he assumes the position of council representative for his native Ward 5, Ty Thorngate owns that insight along with a very good feeling about what residents would like to encounter in Wheeling’s future. The local marketing manager ran his campaign utilizing a few different slogans, including, “I’m not promising that if I get elected, I’ll fix everything. I’m promising that if I’m elected, I will not just work for you; I will work with you.”
Thorngate also pledged a citywide transformation.
“That was a bold thing to say, and I didn’t know how a lot of people would take that. I think that involves changing the people’s attitude,” Thorngate said. “I also mentioned that people felt hopeless, and I caught some flak for that, but when I went door-to-door, a lot of people told me that they have heard the same things from council candidates for the past 40 years. And they told me that they had given up.
“To me, that was hopeless. They had given up on the political process and local government,” he said. “My goal is to get those people involved again so they can believe in city government again.”
While knocking on Ward 5 doors, he heard about speeding issues, the fact that Elm Run remains an issue outside of the Elm Street area, and also concerns centered on illegal drugs trafficking.
“We all talked a lot during the campaign, and there were a lot of things that we said. I think when we take office, it will be time to back it up and get to work,” Thorngate said. “It can’t be all talk. At some point we’ll have to accomplish something. I don’t think we over-promised anything. There are just a lot of smaller details that people thought were missing during the past eight years.
“In Ward 5 one thing we do not have is a lot of community groups outside the Dimmeydale Neighborhood Association, so I would like to see more of those organizations come to be. It’s something we need to build from the ground up and not from the top and down,” he continued. “We really need to get the residents involved again, and I also would like to tackle the issue involving playgrounds from the very beginning. It’s something we all ran on, and I think that’s an issue we could all hang our collective hat on.”
Thorngate also said many asked him to do what he could to retain the city’s young people.
“Jobs and opportunity,” Thorngate said. “That’s the key. That’s why many of my classmates from Wheeling Park do not live in Wheeling right now. Jobs and opportunity.
“As city government we do need to address that issue and not just accept it. We have to do what we can to enhance the opportunity for entrepreneurs to get into downtown Wheeling or any other area of the city,” he continued. “Development is taking place in the downtown, so there is definitely going to be an opportunity there, but we need to take a good look at the rest of the city to see where that kind of development can be added.”
Thorngate was one of four candidates in the race for the Ward 5 council seat, a field that included the incumbent, Don Atkinson. Atkinson has served two terms representing Ward 5 and was one of three incumbents seeking re-election. Following the canvassing, Thorngate proved the winner with a 653-598 victory, a margin of just 55 votes. Lloyd Adams, a former city of Wheeling engineer, placed third with 339, and Frank Calabrese attracted 290 votes in the race.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I was standing on the corner of Washington Avenue and National Road holding a lot of signs, and I think a lot of it had to do with going door-to-door and not just leaving something on someone’s doorstep,” Thorngate explained. “I knocked, I wanted to talk, and I wanted to find out what the people’s issues were.
“Ultimately, I wrote them all Thank You letters and made sure that I tied something in that we had talked about,” he continued. “I had braced myself to hear that I was too young for the job, but I did not hear that a lot.”
Thorngate graduated from Wheeling Park High School in 2006 and then from West Virginia University in 2011, and he has served on the Dimmeydale Community Association since returning from Morgantown. In 39 days, though, he is set to assume a council position representing residents in portions of the Woodsdale, Springdale, Edgwood, Pleasanton, and Wheeling Park sections of the city.
“I’m very excited to get started, and I look forward to more meetings with the city manager, with the department heads, and with everyone else that has anything to do with the operation of the city of Wheeling,” Thorngate said. “Winning the election, besides the day I married my wife, was one of the best days of my life, and that evening many of the new, incoming council members got together and had a very good time.
“But it’s time to get to work. It’s time to apply what we all heard when each of us got out there and spoke with the people of our respective wards,” he added. “The people have to know that we heard them, and the only way to accomplish that is to take up their concerns and do something about them.”
(Photos provided by Thorngate)