Lori McCartney has been chosen to fill the Manchester Village Council seat vacated last month by C.L. Skip Wagner, who resigned after agreeing to finish serving out Mayor Robert Hilderbrand’s term.
Hilderbrand stepped down in early September, citing health problems.
McCartney was one of three candidates considered for the position, according to Wagner.
He praised McCartney’s commitment to her hometown.
“She has been active in many local organizations, including the Greater Manchester Area Churches (GMAC), even before she was appointed to the council, ” Wagner said. “I believe she will be a great asset for the village.”
McCartney does have definite ideas about the changes she’d like to see happen in her hometown from cleaning up burned out and abandoned properties to making the most of the town’s most valuable resource – the Ohio River.
“Thinking long term, I believe utilizing the river is a wonderful opportunity we shouldn’t pass up,” she said. “We need to put our heads together, we need to get citizens involved , we need ideas on ways to improve and utilize the river, and the river bank, to make it a place people will want to visit.”
Like many Manchester residents, McCartney’s greatest concern springs from the closing of the area’s two coal-fired power generation plants.
“They sustained our village, they sustained our population, they sustained jobs -people came here to work, and now they’re gone,” she said. “I don’t want to see Manchester become a ghost town. Our population has dropped significantly in the past 10 years, and I don’t want that to continue.”
Being civically active, McCartney naturally gravitates toward resolving problems by getting people involved.
“You have to give people a reason to want to help – that’s the biggest hurdle – finding people who really do want to help,” she said. “I’m in organizations that do outreach, town cleanups, events for kids, events in the park, movies in the park, and free food for the kids – all of these things bring people together and help to unite our community.”
Community involvement isn’t a new idea in Manchester. Last year some of the village’s citizens, prompted by the disbandment of the town’s police department, began a neighborhood watch to combat thefts in the town.
The decision to disband the police force came under fire from many Manchester citizens, but council members said the decision was based on the village’s inability to pay its police officers.
McCartney said she failed to appreciate the circumstances that guided the council’s decision at the time.
“As a citizen, I wasn’t fully aware of why the police department was disbanded or why it was necessary, but looking a little deeper from an inside point of view, there was no other choice,” she said. “I think when people see the numbers they’ll be more understanding because there really was no choice.”
McCartney currently works as an aide in the ABCAP Head Start Pre-School. The mother of three said she often thought she would one day run for a seat on the village council.
“My family was always very active in the Manchester community, so I thought it was a way to continue that,” she said. “I was waiting for the perfect opportunity when this came up, and I didn’t even have to campaign for it.”
She said during her term on the council her focus will be on the village’s residents.
“I’m most looking forward to hearing what people want. I’ve never been on village council before so people haven’t told me what they want, and I’m very curious to hear.”