By Bethany Bray
---- — Note to readers: Incumbent Paul Prevey and challenger Beth Gerard are running for the Ward 6 Salem City Council seat. Kenneth Sawicki, a perennial candidate who is running for every possible office at once, also is listed as a Ward 6 candidate, meaning the Sept. 17 preliminary election will narrow the field to two candidates.
SALEM — Paul Prevey said one of the things he’s learned in his six and a half years on the City Council is that while a problem may seem small to the city at large, it’s a big problem to the person whose neighborhood it affects.
All issues, large or small, deserve attention, he said.
“That’s what it’s all about, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to first get into this (City Council) as well,” said Prevey, who is running for re-election this fall.
Prevey, a federal court probation officer, was first elected as Ward 6 councilor in 2005 and took office in 2006.
Looking ahead, he said he’d like to continue to focus on “quality of life” issues that affect residents.
“Since I’ve been on the City Council, I’ve seen a lot of positive change in the city, but also things that concern me,” he said. “Some of those issues are still prevalent to this day. ... I think the city has to focus on attracting new residents. Unfortunately when we have a school system in its current condition, that doesn’t help.”
Prevey said his list of “challenges” includes residents’ safety — especially in the wake of a recent shooting in Mack Park — vacant “nuisance” properties and high-density redevelopment, including the Salem Oil & Grease and Salem Suede projects.
The size of those two developments will bring “significant change” to the area, he said. Large developments can sometimes “chase out” residents who were born and raised in a neighborhood, he said.
“We’re hoping it brings some positive effect on the neighborhood ... (but) with larger developments there tends to be problems that are brought along with it,” Prevey said. “... We want to make sure the natives stay.”
Keeping the lines of communication open with residents is also a priority, Prevey said.
“I’m a pretty approachable person,” he said. “I’m willing to work with people, no matter what their background (or) situation is. I’m open to all types of people.”