Sandlin promotes ‘Open for Business’ in 5th Ward campaign

By Patrick Keck -

PORTSMOUTH — One 5th Ward candidate says his vision for the City of Portsmouth is rather straight-forward, not trying to reinvent the wheel in his attempts to make life better for his neighbors.

It is not so much focused on the national happenings, but rather what he believes matters more to its 20,000 plus residents.

“I tell people I’m sort of the boring candidate,” he said in a Wednesday interview inside his RE/Max Right Choice office on 12th Street. “I think the business of city council is to take care of the business of the city.”

Having moved to the city in 2018 with his wife of 37 years, Becky, Joey Sandlin said he is all-in when it comes to moving Portsmouth forward. He has purchased and revitalized homes throughout the area in his 17 years as a realtor and now believes his plans and background can do the same for the city.

Revitalization he said is possible if Portsmouth can market itself as open to business. It’s a feeling that the Shawnee State University alumni has felt from the community in his three years working the real estate market.

“I have been pleasantly surprised by the way the local people and economy has accepted us a fairly new business,” he said. “People are amazingly friendly and there a lot of good people here in Portsmouth.”

Unlike the three 3rd Ward candidates, Sandlin is guaranteed a spot in the November general election as one of the two candidates in his ward. Due to that, his campaign and events have not really taken off as he plans to this summer.

He is however planning on sending a tri-fold prior to the May 4 primary, which details his background and plans for the city, and has spoken with neighbors on what their needs and wants during his routine walks on Grandview Avenue.

Those needs are visible and felt by those driving through town- infrastructure. Matters such as road repairs and beautification of the downtown area through lighting and decorative archways are among the points he emphasizes in the mail-out. Changes like these, plus initiatives like the Master Plan, could move Portsmouth to become a destination city.

“I can imagine being ambulance nurse, trying to give a blood gas test or start an I.V. out near SOMC, because no matter what ingress or egress you go in or out of the road surfaces are really rough,” he said, echoing concerns of 3rd Ward candidate Gary Jenkins. “I know they’ve done work on Coles Boulevard…but I’m sure that’s needed in a lot of places.”

He is joined by current 5th Ward Councilman Edwin Martell, who is seeking another four-year term as a write-in candidate. Martell was appointed to the role in January 2020, replacing Gene Meadows, but 2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon and former 4th Ward Councilman Andrew McManus found success as a write-in during the 2019 election.

Where he differs from Martell and the rest of the council are on several issues, most notably the vacant building tax proposal which Sandlin feels in antithetical to business interests.

“The taxing or punishing of business owners, I believe will end up in the turnover of buildings to the city,” he said in a March 17 Daily Times article. “The city doesn’t have the budget for that, I believe.”

What should be done instead is more stringent enforcement of code enforcement ordinances on the books already, Sandlin believing such legislation could save time and allow for added focus on moving the city forward.

He said disagreements like these are bound to happen in council, pointing to the recent discussions regarding the Market Square pavilion, but decency should still pervail.

“All over, we see a lot of polarization where people want to do away with something because they don’t agree with it,” he said. “No, let’s work together and be kind and respectful. We’re not supposed to all see it the same because different opinions can bring strength.”

By Patrick Keck

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.