Thanks to the Huntington County TAB for taking time to inform Huntington voters about the candidates for the next mayor of Huntington. This Tuesday, November 8th is an important election that will determine the direction of our city for years to come. Here are my responses:
Question One: What actions would you take to improve the city’s fiscal condition?
As the next mayor of Huntington, I will work strategically and cooperatively with current economic development team consisting of Mark Wickersham, Steve Kimmel, the City Council, the County Council and the County Commissioners to attract and retain jobs that pay the kind of wages that can support a family.
I will provide directional leadership to an operations management team committed to providing services to the citizens of Huntington with operational efficiency and outstanding customer service. Collaboration and cooperation among local government agencies is more important today than ever. I will participate in the efforts to finally consolidate the city and county emergency dispatch and begin discussions about combining services provided at the city, county and school garages. Outsourcing the city’s billing and payroll functions should be explored. Longevity pay and the number of paid holidays for city employees are very generous compared to what private-sector workers receive.
This is no time for empty promises; city government faces real financial challenges. The recession and the property tax caps established by the state have combined to sharply reduce revenues. While the resulting lower taxes are good news for property owners, Huntington needs a mayor who will take decisive steps to achieve efficient operations, while delivering valued services and keeping the budget in balance.
Principles that apply to successful private business can also apply to delivering public services. As individuals, we are wise to live within our means. As a community, we must do the same.
Question Two: Other than dwindling financial resources, what are the major challenges faced by the city?
We need more industrial park space to enhance the efforts of our economic development team. It is my intention to work strategically with Huntington County Economic Development to secure industrial developments sites to receive companies ready to bring jobs to Huntington.
We need to continue to revitalize our downtown core. I applaud the efforts of the Huntington Main Street team over the past several years. Change is coming and brighter days are ahead. A dynamic combination of retail businesses, professional service offices and residential housing is our best opportunity to bring life and excitement back to our downtown. Our downtown can and should be a place for celebrations and building relationships.
We need to enhance the quality of life in all our neighborhoods. As the next mayor of Huntington, I will plan to work with District City Councilmen, neighborhood residents, the Street Department, the Park Department, the Police Department, and the Department of Community Development to improve the quality of life, beauty and safety in our neighborhoods around the city.
Question Three: What actions could the council consider to meet those challenges?
Having been a City Councilman for the past 5 ½ years, I understand the vital role City Council has in making sure that the path for economic development is clear to attract, retain and expand jobs in Huntington. As the next mayor, I will sit down with members of the City Council early in my administration and invite them to provide input to the plans we have for economic development, operational efficiencies and neighborhood enhancements. City Council members can be confident that a Fetters administration will demonstrate proactive and directional leadership in seeing that the city operates with efficiency and excellence.
Question Four: What are Huntington’s strong points?
Huntington has a lot going for it! I want to do my part to make Huntington known around the region as a great city to live, work and enjoy life . . .
. . . Parkview Huntington Hospital is a top 100 hospital
. . . Huntington University is a top 10 university in the Midwest
. . . through the collaborative efforts of Huntington County Economic Development, we were named one of the top 25 micropolitan areas in the natio
. . . YMCA facility that is second to none,
Each of us needs to go public about the fact that Huntington is committed to attracting and retaining the kind of jobs that support a family.
Each of us is an ambassador of Huntington. We are known by how we welcome strangers and visitors to our city, how we respect people who don’t agree with us, and how we help those in need – all these behaviors reflect on the kind of community we really are.
Each of us needs to take pride in our homes and the cleanliness of our neighborhoods. We can host block parties. We can volunteer with neighborhood beautification efforts.
No one of us is as smart as all of us. No one of us is as talented as all of us. No one of us is as strong as all of us. Together we can make Huntington the best it can be.
Question Five: Do you plan to make any personnel changes? If so, what?
During the primary campaign, I stated that a Fetters administration would not have an Operations Manager. That statement still holds. In light of that, a Fetters administration will be seeking department heads that will report directly to the mayor and will be responsible to function as “operations managers” of their respective departments. In fairness to all concerned, no personnel changes will be announced until after the citizens of Huntington vote on November 8th.
Question Six: What skills do you bring to the office that would make you the better candidate?
My entire adult life has been invested in the work of serving others and doing my part to improve organizations and communities where I live and work. While in college, I had the chance to work in the Huntington City Engineer’s office for the Smith and Robbins administrations. There I got to see, first-hand, how service-oriented people can make a difference for good in a community. I have been fortunate to receive a great education earning my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree from Huntington University. I have been able to give directional leadership to both not-for-profit organizations and for-profit businesses. I know how to deal with the challenges of making a budget work, how to keep customers satisfied, how to lead a staff, and how to find creative solutions as problems arise.
Since 1998 I have served as operations manager for Myers Funeral Homes. In that role, it has been my privilege to lead a talented team of professionals in meeting the needs of our clients. Sensing a call to a greater level of community service, I can think of no greater honor than to serve my friends and neighbors as the next mayor of the City of Huntington.
Let’s Move Huntington Forward — Vote Brooks Fetters for Mayor on November 8th!