South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens is the second Kanawha County elected official to answer our question: “When you imagine metro government, what do you see?” Mullens was elected mayor in 2007. He started working for the city as a lifeguard in 1982 at age 19. He attended West Virginia State College, sold real estate for a time and worked his way up to city public works director in 1992. South Charleston was established in 1906 and incorporated in 1919. The city has about 12,000 people
A vision of metro government
By Frank Mullens
Mayor of South Charleston
Vision on Metro Government. I guess it is simply that a principle City (Charleston) would be the major identity of the County and the major decision maker. Even though the supporters say there would be no change in how smaller Cities function, I don’t believe that would be the case and certainly not in the long run.
The argument that every City would have representation which gives them a voice just doesn’t hold water. The voice would be small and ineffective. The people serving now will not be the people serving 10 or 20 years from now, so who’s to say where the power structure would go? Here in South Charleston, I believe we have an efficient and effective government, the best services in the State, and the City is financially strong. Why would we change? Our services are very personalized, and I believe if we merge services it would take away that special personalized touch.
There are many questions that need to be answered and some comments that just do not make sense. The discussions have been very generic. Comments such as more efficient and effective government lack detail. A great question would be “What service that the City of South Charleston provides now would a Metro Government provide better and how?” There have been many comments made that a Metro Government would be more cost effective by sharing resources or services. While there may be some, which needs to be explained in more detail, many of these things I would contend could be done now without the formalization of a Metro Government ( 911, Metro Drug Unit). There is also evidence that sharing cost for bulk buying does not always save money.
Also, the comment that by placing all the population under one umbrella, Corporate America is all the sudden going to come to Charleston is a little unbelievable. It would seem a little too simple that we can fool Corporate America that easily. The population is not actually going to increase. Kanawha County has 190,000 now and will have 190,000 in a Metro Government. To better serve a larger territory will certainly bring a price tag. If a Metro Government is going to better serve Pratt, Marmet, East Bank and Clendenin, etc., where is the money coming from? Better trash collection, better roads, better recreation, better Police and Fire protection, better sewer, better storm water management will come with a heavy price tag.
In summary, while I do support a strong Charleston, which I believe would great for the whole Valley, I am not sure that Metro Government is the answer. However, if there is a Metro Government that will help Charleston and other communities that does not include South Charleston, I certainly would not object, and would hope for its success. My main concern is that the citizens of South Charleston are in control of their own destiny and not forced in a form of Government they do not choose. I believe each Municipality should be able to vote independently as to whether it would like to participate in a Metro Government.