MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council’s 5th Ward race will feature two candidates returning to the ballot for the second time — Danielle Trumble and Marly Ynigues.
Trumble, who currently serves as the city’s deputy mayor, dominated a three-person race in 2021, picking up 755 votes to beat out Tony Setley (367) and Ynigues (312) to earn a two-year term.
This time around the winner will claim the seat for four years.
The Morgantown Ice Arena project, changes to city code governing the Morgantown Utility Board, the city’s takeover of the former Defense in Depth property.
All controversial issues in their own right and all instances in which Trumble said she lived up to the promise she made to voters in 2021.
“I don’t intend to just be a rubber stamp,” she said. “That’s something I said during my first campaign, and during my campaign kickoff event two weeks ago I reminded people that I don’t work for the city administration and I don’t work for my colleagues on council. I work for people.”
Trumble, 38, said she believes her first two years on council have set an expectation of transparency and accountability that had been lacking.
It’s also been busy.
Selected by her peers to serve as deputy mayor during her first meeting on council, Trumble has spent the last two years working on initiatives like the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas bill recently passed in Charleston.
She serves as president of the BOPARC Board of Directors and was recently appointed to represent the city on Morgantown Community Resources, the oversight board for Hazel’s House of Hope.
“I want the opportunity to help ensure that building meets its intended vision as a wrap-around services center. I think some things there are going really well. Some things there are not. Now that we have city and county representation on the board, I would like to see how we can help optimize that,” Trumble said.
Providing those services, she continued, has to be part of a multi-faceted approach to addressing some of the issues facing the city’s downtown along with security measures like the reinstatement of downtown foot patrols, enhanced lighting and the camera network recently purchased using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Perception is also key.
“As council, we need to really work up our downtown. I work with Main Street Morgantown a lot trying to show people that we have new businesses opening up all the time, we’re having all kinds of events, there’s lots of people coming down,” Trumble said. “It’s a fun place to be and it’s a safe place to be. We really need to do a better job of promoting downtown, and, at the same time, focusing on the things we can do to make it better.”
In the end, Trumble said, she’s ready to spend the next four years working for the people of Morgantown.
“I’m all about open and honest and transparent communication. There is no one in this city that I won’t talk to about an issue before I’m expected to vote on it. I think I’ve put myself out there and I’ve been representative,” she said. “I just hope people appreciate that.”
Housing, roads and human rights are the central issues pushing Ynigues to renew her push for a city council seat.
“And I just love West Virginia and this city,” she said. “I think we have a lot of opportunities here.”
But there are major challenges that Ynigues believes have resulted from a lack of bold action from the city.
“I think a lot of the issues Morgantown is facing now have been kicked down the road for years. Issues like homelessness haven’t been addressed proactively. I want to create a department of housing and shelter through the city of Morgantown,” she said.
“There are so many people living in Morgantown who say homelessness is one of their top concerns or affordable housing is an issue that’s extremely important to their family, and they’re struggling to find it and stay in our community, but we don’t have anybody in administration who’s tasked with these things as their specific role right now. The city needs to invest the resources and engage in the planning so it’s not all knee-jerk responses.”
Ynigues, 37, previously served on city council in Elkins. She sits on the Mountain Line Transit Board and works with a number of community groups, including the NAACP, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club and the Monongalia Arts Center.
She said the city has fallen into a pattern of addressing symptoms and not the causes behind issues like homelessness and chewed up roads.
“Look at some of these major thoroughfares through our city. Folks have said, ‘They’re state roads, there’s nothing we can do about it,’ but I think we can look at the root issues, reach out to some of these companies and sit down and say, ‘Why is it that you’re driving through the city?’ and see what can be done. I think it could be a win for the whole community,” Ynigues said.
“We understand these are residential roads and they’re not built for heavy equipment so I think bringing folks to the table is the role of a city councilor and it’s what we should be doing as a community.”
Ynigues said being a welcoming community isn’t about slogans, but actions.
“Being a welcoming community is a matter of working with different organizations like the Human Rights Commission, but it also means making resources available to folks. It means making sure we have policies out there to create affordable housing. It means making sure transit is accessible, whether that’s the buses, rail-trails or good, quality roads that aren’t tearing up people’s cars,” she said. “I think we need someone in place who will fight on behalf of these issues and isn’t afraid to put forth bold ideas.”