PARKERSBURG - The city of Parkersburg's two candidates for mayor disagree on a number of issues leading up to the November general election.
Sharyn Tallman, a longtime city council member and Republican challenger for mayor, and Bob Newell, the Democratic incumbent seeking a third consecutive term, have different ideas to address some of the city's problems.
Tallman, a longtime critic of the city's user fee, is pledging to decrease the fee by actively pursuing bad debt accounts and performing random business and occupation tax audits.
"We must first go after those who owe their fair share before we place any additional tax burden on our citizens," she wrote in an email to The News and Sentinel.
Tallman declined to be interviewed for this article, requesting any questions regarding her campaign be sent to her via email. She responded via email with a long campaign platform statement that she requested be published in its entirety.
Newell has maintained he's no fan of the user fee, but stated it was necessary. He said it may not have been necessary if things had been adjusted in the past.
"The user fee has been a big benefit, but it is not a windfall. It was to improve services and it has," he said.
Newell said he does not see any additional fee increases, and previously said he hopes to reduce fees for residents.
Newell said he will continue to be aggressive in his pursuit of new businesses and economic development.
"Businesses make up for well over half our operating budget and that isn't going to change unless the tax structure changes. More importantly, (businesses) provide jobs. The better they do, the less residents pay for services.
"We need to be doing more to be helpful and less restrictive," Newell said.
Parkersburg City Council is set to approve measures that would give new businesses a step-rate break on B&O taxes over a five-year period. Tallman thinks the measure is unfair to already established businesses. She wants to use CDBG money to help assist small business and not solely focus on big businesses.
"It is important, if not more important, to provide longtime businesses the opportunity to grow and prosper without unfair advantages being given to newcomers being solicited via tax incentives," Tallman wrote.
The candidates both want to promote quality-of-life projects for the city, but they disagree on the nature of those projects.
Newell wants to continue to promote bike trails, skate parks, the boundless playground at City Park and the Point Park Music series.
"These are not just important to the people who live here, but important to people who want to move here," Newell said
Tallman wants to reinstate contributions to outside agencies and providing resources to elderly, youth and service organizations.
"This is important as it fosters quality of life for our citizens," she wrote.