Meet the candidates running for Bluefield, W.Va.’s city council

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 2:18 PM EDT
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - There are two at large positions up for grabs. Incumbents Matt Knowles and Peter Taylor are hoping to get re-elected. While challengers Ashley Carr and Ashton Shaw are hoping to bring new blood to the city council.

Carr says her experience as a paralegal can be a difference maker for the city. She says she wants to bring fresh ideas to the city and get younger generations to want to stay and come to Bluefield, West Virginia. She’s says if she gets elected she will be the voice for the younger generation. Although she is originally from Richlands, Virginia she says she has always called Bluefield home.

Shaw is a Bluefield, West Virginia native. He graduated from Bluefield High School in 2016 and spent the next five years in the Marine Corps. After those five years he says he came back to Bluefield to raise his family. He says he’s also hoping to bring fresh ideas to the city.

Knowles says he’s been in the area all of his life. He went to Virginia Tech and after graduation came back to Bluefield, West Virginia to work in the family business: K&K Music. He says he is the third generation of his family to be involved with the business.

Taylor says he’s lived in Bluefield, West Virginia almost all of his life. He has a geology degree from Washington and Lee University. After graduating he began working for Marshall, Miller and Associates in Bluefield, Virginia. He is now retired and spends his time with different organizations in the area.

We asked all four candidates three questions and gave them 20 seconds to answer each one.

Questions one for the candidates is: What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

“I’m younger, I can bring fresher ideas, different ideas. I do have a law background. I feel like the experience in that could definitely bring a difference in the city and the decisions that are made. Just certainly things like that,” said Carr.

“I’m younger, I’m more youthful and more in touch with the youth. I think that our city needs something like that to help us move forward and developing things that are going to make Bluefield good for the next generation,” said Shaw.

“I think my experience. I’ve been on the board six years and I also think my business back ground. Being in a family business that’s been in this area for quite a long time. That’s a big investment for us and we want to see it succeed as everyone does,” said Knowles.

“My leadership experience. I have 35 years experience with Marshall, Miller and Associates. I’ve been with the city board for five years now and I’m on the board for the Foundation for The Virginias and the board of the Bluefield Union Mission,” said Taylor.

Question two for the candidates is: What are some things you would like to see done when it comes to Bluefield’s economic development?

“For economic development I would like to see more possible jobs. We have so many universities around here that can bring in the future generation. So I feel like bringing in more jobs would definitely help us grow more as we’re growing now,” said Carr.

“What the economic development authority has done thus far is great, they’re doing a great job. I think that a big thing that we need to do is tap into the ATV and Hatfield and McCoy Trails. The economy right there, there’s a lot of money that I think Bluefield is missing out on that we could better utilize those things to help the city,” said Shaw.

“I think by us creating the Bluefield Economic Development Authority headed by Jim Spencer that was a big step forward and bringing jobs to this area. I also think tearing down the 400 block downtown will bring economic life to downtown,” said Knowles.

“We’ve brought in Omnis Building Technology. We’re in the process of of developing the John Nash Boulevard. We’re in the process of doing food trucks. We’ll have two food trucks and two trailers,” said Taylor.

The final questions for the candidates is: What infrastructure improvements would you like to see in the city?

“I would like to see, we definitely need to use the history that we have. We have so many buildings that can definitely be rebuilt and remodeled and used for new facilities. Definitely for the economy as far as walking trails and things like that. We definitely need to use the historical buildings that we have now to grow,” said Carr.

“I mean there are a lot of great things happening like the Grant Street Bridge getting done that’s awesome. I think there’s a lot of things in the downtown area that are old. They need to go to make the area look better. There’s just some improvements in that area that can make the city more attractive for businesses coming to the area,” said Shaw.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of infrastructure improvements for the city through work that’s been going on with the gas company, the storm water and if you look around the Grant Street Bridge. These are all improvements. I’d like to see the roads get paved. Coming up we have a grant for that once all the work is completed,” said Knowles.

“We just got a grant for approximately two million dollars to do a study on safe streets. And another federal grant to do connecting neighborhoods. We are going to work on the main arteries around the city of Bluefield,” said Taylor.

Early voting begins on May 24 with the election set for June 6.