During the fall of 2005, I ran for mayor on a "No New Tax" pledge. During the campaign, I predicted if Mr. Newell were elected he would raise taxes and implement new ones. Unfortunately for me, the good ole' boy network launched a last-minute, orchestrated campaign and I lost. However, I won on my predictions.
During the last seven years, Newell has raised trash fees, water rates, swimming pool fee, Memorial Bridge tolls and enacted the wildly unpopular new Newell User Fee (which he regularly blames on council). At the same time, he has reduced services, such as road paving and snow removal. Additionally, while raising taxes, he cut funding for the humane society, senior citizens center, the Wood County Youth Recreation, just to name a few.
By comparison, during these same years, I continued my service on the county commission and by working together with my colleagues, we were able to balance the county budget, able to absorb health insurance increases, provide cost-of-living increases for employees, purchase and remodel two new county office facilities, increase funding for the humane society and fire departments, provide for new tourism opportunities and develop Fort Boreman Park - all without raising the levy rate.
As we elect our next mayor, I hope the citizens will keep this information in mind. The answer should be simple. Look around and see if you are better off today than you were seven years ago when Newell was first elected. Are the roads and the Memorial Bridge in better condition? Has criminal activity been substantially reduced? While members of the good ole' boys network might be better off, I don't think the average citizens are.
Now as we enter the final weeks before the election, Newell is trying to paint himself as a tax cutter, which is simply a political maneuver. His seven-year record shows otherwise. A taxpayer voting for Newell is much like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. I suspect if Newell is re-elected, we will see a new wave of tax increases 2013 and beyond.
Hopefully voters will clearly state "No Re-Newell" and vote for Gerald Board (D) and Sharyn Tallman (R) on May 8.