Portsmouth Second Ward City Council Representative Charlotte Gordon wants you to vote. “It’s your voice. It’s your chance to step up. My vote counts the same as your vote. Everybody has one.”
Gordon is running for re-election to her council seat. Her opponent is write-in candidate Thomas Bailey. SCDN also reached out to Bailey for an interview, but the candidate said, “Per feedback from my mentors, I will not be entertaining any live interviews from your organization until after November 7th.”
“It’s a shame he’s not willing to come in and chat,” Gordon said, pointing out that she ran in the last election as a write-in after being appointed to fill the Second Ward Seat. “My predecessor stepped away after the time I could have been added to the ballot. It’s hard to be a write-in. I really put myself out there and talked about the issues I believed in.”
Gordon, who also serves as the Artistic Director for the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center, said she felt that, at that time, the council wasn’t reflecting the positive energy of the city. “I think that in the last four years, we’ve really changed that. I think that council is really echoing that vitality that we are seeing in all of the development and forward thinking we’re seeing in Portsmouth.”
Gordon said that the city government is collaborating more with the county government to move the area forward. “My background is in the arts. In the arts community, we are all about collaboration. You can only build something so big yourself. As soon as you collaborate, you can build something that’s bigger than either one of you. The more partners you have, the bigger it can be.”
Gordon said that she joined the council around the time Commissioner Scottie Powell joined the Scioto County Commission and she decided it was time to do something about the history of animosity between city and county government. She says she told Powell, “C’mon we’re gonna get a cup of coffee. All the good things happen over coffee. We met and had some really wonderful conversations. We all really want the best for Scioto County and for Portsmouth.”
Gordon says her goal was to make people’s everyday lives better and she feels working with the commissioners has aided Downtown Portsmouth’s development. “We have a new city building. The Marting’s Building is now developed. It’s beautiful. We have new businesses opening up all the time.”
Gordon said her goal for the next four years is more development. “We’ve put into place some long-term projects. A lot of city development is long-term. You really have to look down the road.” She said that includes a plan to repave every street in Portsmouth. “It’s very ambitious. The voters did vote in favor of the road tax that’s enabling him to put this plan into place.” Also coming is a brand new water plant that the city plans to accept bids for soon.
She said rebuilding the city’s infrastructure is a slow process. “If you stop and take a giant step back to look at where we were five years ago, ten years ago…”
Gordon says people from all over the state are amazed at how far the city has come. “Portsmouth has such an energy. A forward-looking, forward motion right now.” She said that the redevelopment of the Boneyfiddle area had paved the way for investors interested in developing the larger buildings that once served as banks and department stores on Chillicothe Street. “People want to back winners. Portsmouth is looking more and more like a safer bet all the time.”
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She says it’s also important to have new construction in the spaces where structurally unsound older buildings have to be demolished. “It’s important for this generation to leave their mark on the downtown with architecture. It becomes the new Portsmouth. While we like to look back at what it used to be, what are they going to be saying in 50 years?” We have to reinvent ourselves for the here and now so it sticks.”
In addition to collaborating with commissioners, Gordon says the city is also working with Shawnee State University to ensure the city’s future. She pointed to the downtown innovation hub and the exciting addition of an MBA program at Shawnee State. “We’ll have these graduates coming out of Portsmouth. Our challenge will be to create the jobs so they can stay here.”
Gordon says she is also very proud of the work she’s done with Fourth Ward Council Representative Lyvette Mosely to develop the city’ East End. “We’ve gone to a series of meetings in the past few months, and residents identified Buckeye Park as a problem.” Using Community Action Grants and fundraising, the secured funds to add new playground equipment and a gazebo. To celebrate the transformation, the park will be renamed Early Town Park. Gordon says that’s only the beginning of plans to elevate the East End. “The citizens feel forgotten. The housing stock is nice, but it needs help. It all takes time to put the money in place and work with the county to pull resources together.”
Gordon encouraged everyone to vote and said if they have questions about any of the issues on the ballot on November 7, to please reach out to her or any member of Portsmouth City Council to ask questions.