PORTSMOUTH- When he was appointed as Gene Meadows’ 5th Ward replacement in January 2020, Edwin Martell was excited about the possibilities for a role in helping the city.
Sentiment among council, however, seemed to be one of fairly common disagreements and budding heads. In his 15 months on council, that feeling has fortunately not been overly frequent, he said.
“With the group that we currently have, we’ve been able to work well, very well together,” Martell said in a Friday interview. “For the most part we all respect each other and respect each other’s opinions, therefore making it easier to work together.”
Even in this smaller sample size, he said he there are ample points of pride in council’s legislation items and broader attempts in improving Portsmouth.
Among the ones he mentioned, Martell said he has been pleased with the passage of anti-discrimination legislation and advancements to the city’s public arts scene. The Public Arts Committee, an idea which he proposed, will start holding its meetings within the coming weeks.
“They’ve really changed the dynamics of the city,” he said, also mentioning his ties to the Portsmouth Street Art Project and work in urging the Ohio High School Athletic Association to pass anti-racism legislation. “We could be here forever talking about the things we’ve accomplished in the past year.”
He also served as the curator in the city’s attempt to be an All-American city, a status it received last August. Martell said leading and taking part in initiatives like these also requires him to be a listener.
It also means taking an active role in the community, where Martell serves as the town ambassador with the Friends of Portsmouth and participates in trash pickups on a regular basis.
“That has given me a huge perspective on some of the problems facing the city,” he said, a first-hand experience in the city’s litter issue eye-opening. “And when you get down to the root of that problem, code enforcement was that root.”
This has become an issue of particular importance to Martell, 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne going as far call the recent activity surrounding code enforcement falls under the “Martell Plan.”
Enforcement means accountability on violators, often living out-of-state, but also a benefit to city residents.
“I hold it near and dear,” he said of code enforcement. “It’s a huge thing for our city. Not only does it hold people accountable for cleaning up their areas and making sure they maintain a lively space, it also is a source of revenue for the city that we have been missing out on for so long.”
Part of the “Martell Plan” also includes the vacant building fine. The prior wording- vacant building tax– no longer describes what would happen if council were to take-up the discussion item he said.
The circumstances with it being a tax don’t fit under his goals at this point, where the fine would be more like writing a ticket. A tax would be assessed to the property tax, involving county authorities which Martell does not want to do.
“As everyone knows, collecting the property tax has been an issue,” he said. “That’s the power of legislation. We can take what other’s have done and make it our own.”
Martell will not be alone in his ward race, joined by realtor Joey Sandlin. If those in the 5th Ward liked what he has done in his tenure, he said they can expect more of the same and support him as the write-in candidate.
“Everything you have seen from me so far, you can continue to expect that,” he said, hoping more residents reach out to him with their concerns. “I am very, very proactive and I am also very reactive when I’m called upon. When my constituents email me, call me with their concerns, I don’t waste time. I try to get down to it and get it rectified as soon as possible.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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