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Sunday, April 26, 2015

David Wohleben
Retired Command Chief of the 107th Airlift Wing David Wohleben announced his candidacy for the 4th Ward seat on the Lockport Common Council today.

The 52-year-old said the city needs experienced leaders to stabilize the city's finances and local economy.

Current 4th Ward Alderman, Democrat Patrick Schrader is seeking re-election.

Wohleben's announcement of candidacy follows in its entirety:
“The City of Lockport needs experienced, proven leadership with a fresh perspective,” remarked David Wohleben, a 52-year-old retired Command Chief of the 107th Airlift Wing, while announcing his candidacy for Lockport’s 4th Ward alderman seat.

“Lockport needs experienced, independent leaders with a proven track record for getting results and maintaining accountability,” Wohleben said at his Lincoln Avenue home, where he resides with his wife, Mary, his daughter, Kendzie, and his son, Kelsey.  “In the Air Force, I was the Financial Superintendent for a $53 million dollar budget. I’m asking my neighbors to let me put that experience to work by helping our fiscally stressed city.”

Over the course of a 33-year Air Force career, including 26 years on Active Duty, Wohleben racked up a long list of successfully completed assignments that make him ready to be a leader for the city and a voice for the 4th Ward. This included a lengthy stint in the Air Force’s equivalent of Human Resources Management, serving as Chief Enlisted Manager, as well as his oversight of a $53 million budget while serving as his unit’s Financial Superintendent.

Expanding Lockport’s Tax Base. “The time to kick the can down the road has passed, and we have to address a number of issues, most financial in nature,” Wohleben declared. “We need to further stabilize our local economy, and we either need to increase city government’s revenue or cut city government’s expenses. The task of cutting expenses has begun and there may be other opportunities to reduce spending that have not been explored. If we are going to increase revenue, expanding the tax base is the solution, not raising taxes by amounts that stress working family budgets. That means returning properties to the tax rolls.”

Wohleben noted a recent tax auction had included around 150 city properties, many abandoned.

Wohleben said he would work closely with elected leaders of all parties to reach results that would benefit the entire city, but that he wanted to make sure city government remembered the people paying the bills.

Fighting Blight and Restoring Pride. “Our taxpayers expect a good return on their investment,” Wohleben said. “They want to ensure that tax dollars pay for the things that keep their city a good place to raise a family.”

In that spirit, Wohleben said preserving the city’s character and fighting back against urban blight had to be a top priority for city leaders.

“We need to address code enforcement by giving our code enforcement officer the tools to do his job,” Wohleben said. “Lockport has an image problem, and the first step to fixing it is enforcing our rules to protect our property values and encouraging young families to locate here which will help to broaden our tax base. Pride of ownership matters.”

A Plan to Improve Lockport. Wohleben also said he would urge city leaders to take up a full review of the city’s Master Plan.

“We have to ensure that we are using a plan designed to guide us to greater fiscal stability and a broader tax base to our residents’ advantages,” Wohleben stated. “Six years ago, the Niagara County Center for Economic Development rolled out a Master Plan. We should look to it for clues on how to continue to develop our city.”

Wohleben also said he would look toward improvements to the city’s park system, noting that several attempts by local residents to perform cleanups of the properties had met resistance.

“Our parks are in disrepair. They are being vandalized, and they are being poorly maintained,” Wohleben observed. “There are grants we can seek. More importantly, though, we need to encourage community involvement, encourage volunteers. This shouldn’t be a contentious issue: if the parks aren’t being maintained and local residents want to pitch in, they should be able to do so.”

Real, Proven Leadership. Wohleben, a veteran of Operation Deny Flight, Operation Joint Guard, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, confided one assignment above all others, though, prepares him for the challenge of setting Lockport back on track.

“I was an Aircrew member specializing in in-flight aerial re-fueling on a KC-135 Stratotanker for 15 years,” Wohleben said. “You have to do your job, and do it right every time, or there can be disastrous consequences. You learn to pay very close attention to detail. Similarly, managing a city government—with its $24 million budget, its hundreds of workers—and getting results for 21,000 city residents requires that you don’t take your eye off of what’s going on around you.”

“I want the 4th Ward to know that, if they place their trust in me, I will earn it every single day by staying on top of issues, and not letting problems grow, as they have over the past decade.”

In addition to his fiscal responsibilities in the Air Force, Wohleben also has a track record closer to home. He has served as a member of the DeSales Catholic School’s board of trustees for six years, including four years as treasurer and two as president, and notes that the school has successfully secured funds through a state grant for a $240,000 capital improvement.

“We also maintained a very fiscally sound, balanced budget over the past six years,” Wohleben noted with pride.

Wohleben is a member of the Lockport Exchange Club, the American Legion, and All Saints Catholic Parish. He has been a confirmation teacher for more than two decades. He is also a member of the Air Force Association and the Air Force Sergeants Association. He is a Commissioner on the Lockport Planning Board
Wohleben is seeking the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

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