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Op-ed: Tackling district’s challenges is a job of ‘we,’ not ‘me’

I just got my “2020” today, a friend told me. Have you had yours yet? A “2020” is something bad that happens — you wreck your car, get cataracts, miscarry, or your child breaks their arm. It’s become slang for something that goes very wrong.

But “2020 vision” also describes perfect eyesight. And hindsight.?

So what do people see when they go through District 4? We are a very diverse neighborhood. On Southside, many homes were built by people working at the industrial plants off old Camden Ave. Some houses were built in the mid-1800s and some — the tiny homes — were just built a few months ago. We have stately brick homes, and streets that intersperse well-kept homes with houses of drug dealers. Some have gardens and beautifully landscaped yards and some have junk. We have a lot of people who rent their homes or are buying them on Land Contract.

We have people who walk through this neighborhood on a daily basis. And we also have some families who have lived in the neighborhood for three or four generations. But we also have “2020 hardships” that have lasted for years. There are many with health problems such as heart attacks, falls from high ladders, cancer, addictions and panic attacks.

Some seniors have spent years maintaining and improving their homes, only to find out that they can’t sell their homes for what they are worth, which keeps them from moving to better places. We have yards that have slipped, excessive storm water flooding, worn out water pipes, and fires. Southside had an industrial warehouse catch fire that took 8 days to put out.

I don’t want us to be looking back four years from now and asking why didn’t we plan better? Why didn’t we fix this problem, or plan for this contingency? It can be very tempting for local political candidates to get involved with ideologies or social issues that are better handled at a state or federal level. The main thing, I think, is representing and working on behalf of all the residents of my district.

It’s very important for people in this district to have more input in the planning process at the City level, and have a significant role in determining how City resources can best be used in their area. Right now, this area has been designated as an Economic Opportunity Zone, but it has been pointed out that some investments in an EOZ actually make things worse for low to moderate income families.

Another example is the use of Community Development Block Grants, where a small number of people benefit from them. We would do better by asking the people in our neighborhoods to develop plans and timelines for the betterment of their parts of town. This is an “all hands on deck” moment. Our neighborhoods can’t stand to be neglected much longer, and people who live here have good insight into what would make things better in the future.

We have many skilled, talented, hard-working and generous people in District 4, and a neighborhood association could be effective in making significant progress here.

As I walk through District 4, I have heard over and over, get rid of the burned houses. Reduce crime, build better water lines and sidewalks. Enforce the ordinances already on the books regarding the health, safety, and sanitation of abandoned homes and empty lots. Improve our transportation systems. Keep our young people in the state, improve public education, and keep our residents healthy. These are the tasks of city government. It’s not a “me” job but a job of “we.”

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Wendy Tuck is the Democratic candidate for the District 4 seat on Parkersburg City Council.

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