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Mar 31 2011

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Local candidate lists priorities

Victoria Wilson is clear on the issues she intends to tackle as a candidate for local District 3 that will improve the quality of life for District 3 and Longview residents.  She intends to upgrade the facilities of the district’s five public parks, especially heavily used Broughton and Teague parks.  She aims to provide Broughton with a ball field, updated commercial kitchen, CD cleaner for its library, additional pavilion space, resurfaced basketball court, recreational water sprays and longer walking trails.
She looks to complete historic Teague’s unfinished mural, upgrade the amphitheater so it can be used for community events, and provide it with more seating and another restroom.  Wilson would also like to see Mobberly Avenue’s historic fire station renovated.  Yet the parks are far from her sole concern for civic improvement.
She is also intent on locals rediscovering their multicultural historic district, take pride in their individual neighborhoods and keep up an informal crime watch along with improved street lighting and more sidewalks.
Wilson places this in perspective by borrowing a quote from Mother Teresa.
“I want you to be concerned about your neighbor.  Do you know your next-door neighbor?” she asks.  “Does he drive by your business, or are you afraid to call him or her?”
Another major plank in her platform is business development.  District 3 is home for such major business and educational sites as LeTourneau University, Nieman Marcus and EASTMAN.  LeTourneau University President Dr. Dale Lunsford spoke with Wilson on the district’s problems.  The university has grown from a 100-student college housed in an old Army barracks to a sprawling, state-of-the-art campus enrolling gifted students from all 50 states.  Still, students and their parents who are impressed with LeTourneau and its facilities are often disillusioned by the broken-down vistas they pass as they drive along Mobberly Avenue and the Estes Parkway.  Bedraggled business fronts and boarded-up buildings do not give visitors a positive impression of Longview.  Impressed with the university, but not with the city these brightest of our nation’s young minds are leaving the area after graduation because Longview gives a poor image of itself as a place of opportunity.
One of the ways Wilson looks to work for District 3 is to develop the train depot in order to bring in additional revenue.  This would hopefully revive existing businesses while also attracting new ones.
She also believes property maintenance codes are in need of revision.  Because property owners have no responsibility to provide upkeep on their establishments the neighborhoods are steadily deteriorating into slums. “South Longview is the most historic district in the community. It is the heart of Longview,” she said.  “Together we can make it beat again.”
Wilson believes the city must not only preserve the positive aspects it still possesses, but resurrect and exploit the allure of its rich history.  She points out it is the only major city between Dallas and Shreveport that has expanded away from Interstate-20, and that 33,000 cars daily bypass Longview with their drivers and passengers not stopping to eat or buy gasoline simply because it is not convenient.  She sees a more attractive city as a more prosperous one.
“The gateway into Longview has to be beautified to attract travelers,” she says.  “Now is the time to take up projects like beautification, and this means local citizens and the city alike.”
There is also the ever-vital matter of education.  Graduates and students are often unsure of their futures.
“The new Longview ISD schools are gorgeous and immaculately equipped with the best technology for positive learning outcomes,” she said.  “But as soon as they leave their schools they walk into a different world – a world of substandard environment.”
Mostly, Wilson hopes for adaptive use of older schools, and housing for local homeless teens.  She also believes in lower fares for disabled and low income customers of the city transit system.  She points to voter participation as the key to these improvements.
In the latest district election only 511 of the district’s 6517 registered voters cast ballots.  She regards such apathy as a symptom of the city’s chronic problems.
“What does it say to the city government about our district?  Are we disenchanted, discouraged or in disbelief that anyone will listen?” she asks.
Wilson makes it clear she will pay attention.
“You talk and I will listen,” she said.  “I want what you want.”
Wilson tout this as a clear promise that she will respond to her constituents – especially if they come to the voting places and bring their friends, relatives and neighbors.

Victoria Wilson and Mickie Hand

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