Johnson right choice for council at large

To the editor:

I write this letter today to urge all my friends and family to elect Michael R. Johnson as councilman at large in Steubenville.

There are many reasons to support Johnson. He is intelligent, transparent, fiscally conservative, and he responded promptly to all citizen complaints during his term as 2nd Ward councilman. He is pro-neighborhood, as evidenced by his authorship of the Neighborhood Conservation District Ordinance, which is the best piece of legislation passed by City Council in years.

While any one of those reasons justifies supporting him, I would like to disclose another reason: Recreation. Johnson knows the valuable role recreation plays in a community. Growing up in Steubenville, Johnson played on the local ball fields and basketball courts as a kid. When he reached adulthood, he volunteered his time and served as a youth coach for various baseball, basketball and soccer teams.

During his term as 2nd Ward councilman, Johnson was an advocate of the recreation department. When the prior city manager proposed to cut the department, Johnson led the way to keep the department open, and prevented the prior city manager from closing the department.

When the current city manager proposed closing the Belleview Pool, Johnson once again was on the side of the citizens and the recreation department and voted to keep the pool open.

The city is now contemplating closing its tot lots. Johnson believes the closing of the tot lots is anti-growth and anti-neighborhood. He believes the tot lots contribute to the livability of the city’s neighborhoods. When a young family is looking to move into Steubenville, a tot lot in the neighborhood is a positive attribute. If the city is truly trying to move forward, grow and attract new citizens, the closure of tot lots is a step in the wrong direction.

The city claims it cannot afford to maintain the tot lots. Johnson believes the city cannot afford to close the tot lots if the city plans to grow. He believes the city must make a commitment to recreation and increase the staff of the recreation department, which currently only has two full-time maintenance employees.

If the city votes to close the tot lots or refuses to properly staff the recreation department, it is the equivalent of raising a white flag and surrendering the future of the city.

The citizens deserve a strong recreation department.

If you believe the city can do better in maintaining the Belleview ballparks, if you believe the city should maintain the tot lots and if you believe in the city providing a strong recreation department that is adequately staffed, join me on Nov. 5 in electing Michael R. Johnson, “a voice of reason,” as councilman at large in Steubenville.

Stan Figurski