(Essex) -- KMA News continues its "Meet the Candidates" series, featuring candidates running in key city and school board elections for the upcoming November general elections. The latest report features the third, and final, candidate running in the Essex Mayoral race, Blain Petersen.
A resident of Essex since the early 2000s, Petersen says he moved to the community to raise his family and decided to stick around after getting to know the community. An avid motorsports driver, Petersen participated in races all around the country, visiting several small towns, until settling down and operating his business, Petersen Auto, out of Shenandoah. During his nearly two decades in the area, Petersen has worked with the Shenandoah Hospital on the EMS team, and currently serves on the volunteer Shenandoah Fire Department. Petersen is one of three candidates running to succeed Marian Durfey, and he say's he's running for mayor of Essex, because he wants to finally give back to his community and address the changing demographics.
"You know Essex used to be an older community, to a part, but I think that's starting to change a little bit more, and more," Petersen said. "There's getting to be a little bit more younger crowds in there, or middle age crowds, and I think they want some different things."
Petersen says he wants to make sure the city is devoting dollars in the right places including infrastructure projects such as roads and the sewer systems update the city is currently pursuing. While saying he'd like to help bring more businesses to town, Petersen says they're running out of room.
"We're running out of space in town to house these businesses, there's some older buildings on the main street, and they're full of people storing stuff in them or running businesses out of them," Petersen said. "Hopefully we can try to think of some new ways to get some more property somewhere, that we could use to bring some more business to town."
In regards to nuisance properties in the community, Petersen says it can be a touchy situation. While agreeing nobody wants to live next to a dilapidated property, Petersen says one-on-one conversations need to happen before making any policy decisions.
"Going in an having a personal talk with somebody first, and getting their ideas of why it is this way," Petersen said. "Maybe they can't afford to get rid of this stuff, or maybe they think there's nothing wrong with it, so it's a tough situation."
Petersen says he also supports partnerships with the Essex Community School District so long as it is accomplishing the goal of potentially saving the school and city money, and follows all the necessary guidelines and procedures.