Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Six seek council seats
Deadline to file is 7 p.m. today
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Slightly more than 24 hours before tonight’s filing deadline, six people had submitted paperwork to run for three open seats on Martinsville City Council.
Five had been certified as candidates, and paperwork submitted by the sixth was being reviewed as of Monday afternoon, according to Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour.
James R. Clark Sr. of Spruce Street and Jay Engstrom of Lanier Road turned in their paperwork Monday and were certified to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, joining incumbent councilmen Mark Stroud of Oakgrove Avenue and Danny Turner of East Church Street Extension and political newcomer Sharon Hodge of Greyson Street.
Hodge, who submitted her paperwork last week, discovered she needed 19 more signatures than she initially submitted on her petition. She later submitted those signatures and was certified, Barbour said.
To be on the ballot, a person must submit petitions with signatures of at least 125 registered city voters.
Paperwork submitted by Jim Woods of Corn Tassel Trail was being reviewed Monday afternoon, Barbour said.
Clark, 67, is retired but works part time doing floor measurements for a carpet retailer. He said he is running for council because “I think we need more bang for the buck” from city government.
“I want a more conservative government,” he said. “The city can reduce spending and run more efficiently.”
A potential cost-cutting move that interests him is the idea of Martinsville legally reverting from a city to a town in Henry County. Clark said he has plans to talk with officials in Clifton Forge and South Boston, which already have reverted, and Bedford, which is in the process of reverting, “to educate myself on this whole process ... the good points and bad points.”
He also plans to talk with Danville’s school superintendent to see how much that system spends on teaching students and to find out if there are changes Martinsville can make “that would give us the best education for less money.”
Clark, who is not the same James Clark who served on the council a few years ago, said he also favors reducing taxes.
Engstrom, 42, is a special agent with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. He said he is making his first campaign for public office because he wants to “put a fresh set of eyes in council and try to do something good for the city.”
“I’m one of those people that if you’re going to complain about something, it does no good to complain if you’re not willing to try to help or try to fix it,” he said.
Engstrom said he decided last week to run after thinking about it for a year or so. His next step, he said, is to become more educated on the issues, including city budgeting and spending decisions.
“Do I feel we spend money on some things we don’t think about? Yeah, I think that that’s happened,” he said. “Sometimes saying ‘No’ isn’t such a bad thing. But really, I’m just getting my feet wet in all of this.”
Engstrom grew up in Jamestown, N.Y., and moved to the area when he was in high school. He left to join the military and later returned to Martinsville, where he has lived for 21 years.
Woods, who turns 40 today, manages the Martinsville branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library and is a former civics teacher. He said he used to emphasize to his students that “instead of being part of the problem, be part of the solution.”
By running for council, “I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” he said.
Woods said he is running because “I just love this area. We’ve got so much potential (to grow and prosper). We’ve just got to tap the resources.”
Using a football metaphor, Woods said the city has “some big issues” such as race relations and reversion that “seem like they keep getting punted down the field.”
Woods indicated that he wants to see as much funding as possible spent on the city’s schools and police department.
Amid economic constraints, however, “we’ve got to be willing to make some tough decisions,” he said, such as doing “an honest assessment” of reversion.
Woods mentioned that he has heard comments from local residents along the line of “cut, cut, cut” spending. But as cuts continue to be made, there comes a point when services and other aspects of government cannot sustain any more cuts if they are going to continue functioning, he said.
The community must look for ways to generate new revenues to sustain services, such as by attracting new companies that will pay large amounts of taxes, according to Woods.
The deadline to file to run for council is 7 p.m. today, Barbour said.