Wheeling officials react to rejection of public safety levy

Politics

“I feel really bad for the employees and volunteers, but there’s no time to pout. My parents didn’t raise a quitter,” said Shawn Schwertfeger, Wheeling Police Chief .

That’s the mindset Wheeling Police and fire departments are in after a devastating levy loss Tuesday night.

For months, officials advocated for a new Public Safety Building in hopes of housing all first responders together.

While it did get 54 percent approval, a pretty divisive majority, West Virginia state code requires 60 percent.

“We failed. I hate that word, failure, but we did,” Schwertfeger said.

On Wednesday, Wheeling City Council pledged to not not give up on this issue.

Officials said they’ll fight for better work spaces for the police and fire departments and bring all of them into the 21st century.

“We haven’t given up on this issue. We have to regroup and figure out what the next best options are because despite the vote, deficiencies in the buildings still remain. So, we’re going to keep looking at it and working with every member of city council, city staff, and the city manager to figure out the best next solution,” said Glenn Elliott, Mayor of Wheeling.

7News asked Chief Schwertfeger if a possible solution could be moving into a new building, such as the Social Security building located in East Wheeling. 

But the Chief said most buildings are too small and paying rent isn’t the best business move.

“This project that did not move forward was the best option. We can’t help it that other levies have recently passed. I think that was probably detrimental to our efforts, but it is what it is. We’ll just have to continue to keep working,” Schwertfeger said.

Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms also responded to the decision by voters Tuesday night.

He thanked everyone for their support and vowed this won’t be the end.

Stay with 7News for updates.

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