Early voting for the 2012 primary election has begun, and voters in Parkersburg still are getting no answers to questions put to one of the candidates for mayor.
During a two-week period former city police chief and now mayoral candidate Gerald Board has refused to tell voters what his plans are for the city.
Board first said he didn't have the city administration experience and needed to get into office to learn about its operation before saying what he would do as mayor.
Then last week he said he would "work" to eliminate the user fee, but refused to give any hint as to how he would accomplish that.
He wouldn't say how he would plug the anticipated $2-plus million hole in the city budget if the user fee were eliminated.
He wouldn't say where or how he would create revenue needed to fill that hole or what services he would cut to make up the money generated by the $2.50-a-week user fee paid by all who work inside the city limits.
Telephone calls to Board to get details of his purported plan were not returned.
Well, whether we like it or not, there's only two ways to balance a deficit budget: Cut expenses or create revenue. Which is Board proposing? Your guess is as good as anyone's because he won't say ... and that's insulting to the voters of Parkersburg.
But Board is not alone in refusing to say more than merely uttering populist catchphrases.
Several candidates running for city council also played to the populace and mentioned they wanted to do away with the user fee, but none of them offered any type of plan to accomplish their self-serving rhetoric ... and that's just as insulting.
Unfortunately, such is the problem with elections. Candidates play to what they perceive to be voter desires and make unsubstantiated statements with little or no plan to accomplish their pledges. Without outlining a plan, campaign promises and campaign statements are about as worthless as the proverbial screen door in a submarine.
It's the age-old candidate-related tactic of promise the citizens anything they want to hear and then do whatever you want once you get into office. Didn't Richard Nixon do that in the 1968 presidential campaign when he repeatedly said he had a plan to get the U.S. out of the Vietnam War but never shared that plan until he ran for re-election on that same popular rhetoric in 1972?
It's appalling for any candidate to play to voter wants and desires without offering any means to accomplish those wants and desires.
Likewise, it's also appalling for an incumbent to make self-serving statements about how services were maintained during the recession without saying it was accomplished by increasing taxes through enacting a user fee.
Maybe citizens need to listen more closely for what candidates don't say rather than what they actually say ... because maybe that's where the real answers lie!
Remember, early voting in West Virginia has started and the primary election will be May 8. Take the time to learn about the candidates and issues and then make your voice heard by casting your ballot.
As I have been told many times, if you don't vote, you don't have any right later to complain about the election or the direction of your city, county, state or nation.
Contact Jim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.