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May 04 2011

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Talking politics: District 3 candidates meet the press and public

Immoderate weather did not stop Longview’s voters and assorted elected officials from attending the final public forum for District 3 candidates before upcoming elections.  The local NAACP chapter president, the Reverend Homer Rockmore made clear his organization’s position on the matter.
“NAACP does not endorse any candidate,” he said.  “We thank each candidate for coming.”
The following are the questions directed at the three W’s–candidates Victoria Wilson, Kasha Williams and Wray Wade.

What issue in District 3 do you feel is most important?
What are your plans for addressing this issue?

For Williams, community mobilization is paramount, along with expansion of economic development and infrastructure. Also, community beautification.  In her opinion, Mobberly Avenue, High Street and quite a few other local thoroughfares, could use a face-lift. She also emphasizes crime prevention.
At the top of Wade’s list is reinvestment of the people in the district. He aims to do this through creating quality housing and jobs, and by working in close cooperation with local business owners to increase capital gains.  He sees this as the best way to make Longview a better place for anyone living there or thinking about living there.
Wilson’s main issue is property maintenance. She emphasized this by revealing that even though the house next to her residence is boarded up, there is somebody living there at night. She sees economic development, expanding the tax base, crime prevention and job creation as vital matters. For her, the 500-pound gorilla in the room consists of the district’s too-many unkempt properties.
“Until we get our neighborhood cleaned up I do not know how anyone will want to relocate their business here,” she said. “Enhancing property codes and [deciding] what to do with absentee landlords is what we need.”

What is your stance on the current city bond election that is proposed by the Streets Task Force?

Wilson supports the bond, especially considering how most of the funds would be spent in South Longview.  New streets and sidewalks would enable students to walk home, as well as add to the area’s quality of life, while also improving its overall environment.
Wade is also in favor of the bond.  The resultant construction could well provide needed employment for the district’s young people. It would also teach them how to bid for contracts and educate them on the bond-passing process.
“District 3 is one of the places that needed it the most,” he said.
Likewise, Williams is in favor of the bond. Serving on the task force taught her quite a bit that would come in handy should she be elected. She sees South Longview, as the oldest part of the city, in need of having some of its roads reconstructed.

The I-20 corridor is a prime
location for new business.
However its potential has always been untapped.
What plans do you have to increase economic development in this area?

Wilson says we have unnecessarily belabored the I-20 corridor. She believes it would be better to involve local businesses in the matter rather than turning it over to outside developers. She used the analogy of working with a young man in bringing in a small ballpark and putting in a museum in order to attract more money-spending visitors to District 3 and to Longview. She pointed out that 33,000 cars that pass daily on I-20 are not stopping in Longview.
Wade is a major proponent of Longview exploiting the I-20 corridor resource. Yet, he counsels caution in the process lest the district’s residents be themselves exploited by developers.  He favors working closely with LEDCO to reserve the I-20 corridor.
Williams pointed to how developers are already eyeing the I-20 corridor, but she also believes the city should adopt a developer-friendly policy.  She added that small business prospects already abound, and made it clear she also would work closely with LEDCO to enhance these opportunities.

What are your thoughts on enhancing the current quality of life in District 3?

Williams explained that since the quality of life is relative and subjective the answer to this question must vary greatly according to who is asked. She does believe we all want the same basic things out of life–such as a safe neighborhood. She touted the “good things” already in District 3–such as LeTourneau University, some of the city’s biggest employers, and both weekly and daily newspapers. Still, she sees room for improvement, and she aims to strive for it.
Wilson agreed that the quality of life is subjective. She sees it as not only wealth and employment, but environment, education, leisure, and social belonging. She noted how the district already has more parks than any other in Longview, and cited the Broughton Center as a prime example of a wholesome family recreation resource.

What are your plans for insuring District 3 has a prominent voice
in Longview?

Wilson has already commenced working on this issue by setting herself up as a liaison between the people and the city. She has made herself a strong and active spokesperson.
Wray intends to make an investment in the people by articulating their concerns and taking them to the city council.
“People are afraid to travel to South Longview, and we need to change all that,” he said.
He would also concentrate on making home ownership a more attainable goal, and on improving the chances of successfully running a small business in the district. These goals, when accomplished, would benefit the whole city.
Williams said this is the time for her to leverage all her involvement for District 3 and Longview. She revealed she is already working with residents to resolve the district’s issues.
“If you give me a task I will complete it to the best of my abilities,” she said.

What are your views on diversity
in the City of Longview?

Williams believes that any community needs to be adequately represented, and commended Longview on how it has representation for all its resident cultures.
Wray described that, as a Japanese translator, he never stops learning about diversity. District 3 is unique because of its diversity. He would work with the Hispanic community mainly on housing, immigration and other such matters.  For African-Americans he would continue to address the issues that have faced them for so many years.  He would work with Caucasians on all fronts.
“I embrace all cultures, and will not have any problems with diversity,” he said.
Wilson said her being German and Indian gives her a head start on establishing rapport with all cultures. As the press conference drew to a close she told her audience that they were looking at three formidable, competent candidates, but she would like their votes.  She urged them to take the vital step of getting out and casting their ballots.
Williams pointed to her track record–how she has already put in so much time and effort for the city. She informed her listeners that service is her personal ministry.
“I will make a difference.  I am concerned [and] committed to working on your behalf and that of Longview,” she said.
Wade also told of how he has already been working for the district and city, and that his personal life has further qualified him.  His sister was diagnosed with cancer in 1998.  After she passed away in 2004 he voluntarily left a lucrative life he had made for himself in New York, and moved back to Longview to become a single parent to his sister’s five children.  He has no biological children of his own.  One of these children has already graduated from college.  One is a college junior.  One is a freshman.  One is a high school senior.  The last is a high school sophomore.  They are molding successful lives thanks to his unselfishness and sense of responsibility.  Wray has even started a new business–I-20 Sports Bar on Loop 323. Also, he assists local students acquire sports scholarships, and purchased and revived the financially ailing Barber School on High Street simply because he feels the city needs a barber school especially in that location.  His students graduate ready for successful careers.
“I am willing to make sacrifices,” he said.  “I am willing to step out on that ledge and be that role model so you can be successful.”

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