Longview District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy, left, is being challenged by Marisa R. Ward.

Two women seeking election in May to the Longview City Council are focused on making improvements to the city’s southwest district.

“I want to encourage people to get out and vote,” incumbent District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy said. “Make an informed decision. Research the individuals seeking office and make the best choice for the council.”

Snoddy, 60, has served District 2 since first being elected in 2015. Due to city term limits, her re-election campaign is for a third and final three-year term.

If re-elected, Snoddy said she looks forward to continuing the work she has done in District 2 and hopes to see more projects come to completion.

Marisa R. Ward, 44, is challenging Snoddy’s re-election bid. Ward describes herself as a community leader and organizer who wants to see change in South Longview. Ward said she wants to challenge the council to make more investments in that part of the city and in District 2, noting that she believes there has not been “a fight” for resources in her community.

“It’s time for a change. It’s time for a fresh voice, and it’s time for a fresh energy,” Ward said, as she also encouraged residents to make an informed decision with their votes.

Born and raised in Longview, Snoddy graduated from Longview High School in 1978 along with Mayor Andy Mack. She holds a bachelor of science from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce). A longtime special education teacher in Longview ISD, Snoddy said she has a passion for serving others.

“I’ve always gotten more gratification in doing for others than doing myself,” she said.

In the past six years on the council, Snoddy said, she takes pride in the work that has been accomplished but more so the change she has observed in constituents in the community.

“When I think about the work that has transpired, I think about not only what we physically see in South Longview, but I also think about the change of attitude that the community has had,” she said. “I am proud that people are becoming stakeholders and getting involved in our community.”

Ward said she’s knocked on doors, and she feels like too many people are unfamiliar with their council representative and with what is happening in the city. If elected, she said she would keep the community informed through town hall meetings, educational seminars and even visits to residents’ homes.

“You ought to see a fight in your councilperson. Our community is the heart and soul of our city, and when our residents come back to their respective neighborhoods, they should feel a sense of pride and safety, knowing they have a councilperson working hard on behalf in local government,” Ward said.

Ward has lived in Longview for seven years. Originally from Shreveport, she worked in the hospitality industry before moving into the electrical power industry. A victim of domestic violence by her former husband, Ward said she and her children were homeless for a period of time. That experience, she said, made her stronger and made her realize that “God had called me to do something greater.”

Today, she leads two organizations focused on giving back. Through her the group called Find Your Power, Ward helps women leave domestic violence situations and move “into a life of beauty and choice,” she said. And through “Bee Busy” Being The Change, she works to give back to the community, especially in South Longview.

“My main thing is I’m coming in to challenge the Comprehensive Plan and the budget, because what it states in the Comprehensive Plan is working so well for North Longview and not so well for South Longview,” Ward said. “I’m frustrated. I’m sick of our tax-paying, law-abiding citizens suffering because South Longview is not deemed important enough.”

Ward said she believes more money and resources need to be allocated to South Longview streets, beautification efforts and development. She said there is much unused land and buildings in that part of the city that could be prime spots for development. She noted the city’s Interstate 20 corridor, which has been an ongoing topic of discussion in Longview since at least 2013.

“Why haven’t we done anything with that entryway? A lot of people in South Longview are upset — and I’m included in this — because we invite our family and friends to come visit and they see un-utilized land and buildings that should have been torn down a long time ago,” Ward said. “We need economic development, and we need to fight for a strong, secure, sustainable community in South Longview.”

Snoddy said there has been business development in South Longview and, more specifically, in District 2 in the past years. Those businesses include a Zippy J’s store on High Street, for which Snoddy made her first motion as councilwoman six years ago to give approval. Other businesses include Southern Classic Chicken, Creature Comforts and ABC Auto Parts, all of which lie in District 2.

Additionally, major industrial firms in District 2 have made “significant investments” in their facilities, Snoddy said. Those industrial plants include Komatsu Mining, which committed $7.1 million toward an expansion, and Nucor Steel, which committed $2 million toward expansion.

“Businesses like that help us become more sustainable and stay sustainable in South Longview,” Snoddy said. “I’m hoping to continue our relationship with LEDCO so we can continue our growth, and I want to help educate people more about what that growth looks like. Growth comes in a lot of different forms.”

As a councilwoman, Snoddy serves as a liaison to various city commissions. In her free time, she also gives of her time and efforts. She’s worked with One Love Longview, Church On Purpose and was heavily involved in the Boys and Girls Club for many years.

“I do a lot of things unannounced because I don’t look for applause for my work,” she said.

With regard to the 2018 bond election, Ward said she applauds efforts that saw fire training tank cars and other items removed from the Stamper Park area, and she is proud to see improvements being made to the park and other facilities in South Longview. However, she noted that just because work is happening in District 2 as a result of the 2018 bond package, Snoddy isn’t the sole reason for it.

“Residents need to remember that the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee brought these items up, and every single council member held a town hall meeting in their respective district for residents to give input. Then we had the 2018 bond election in which the entire city voted for these projects and had their voices heard,” Ward said. “The community needs to be credited and applauded for stepping up in being the change — not Councilwoman Snoddy. Efforts like this are how the community can play a role in continuing to make improvements in our city.”

Snoddy said she has never and would never called the bond election’s passage “her” accomplishment. However, she said it is important that those who have been overseeing the progress continue to help direct the course to see those projects come to completion.

“As we all know, this (the bond election) isn’t ‘my’ accomplishment — this is ‘our’ accomplishment,” Snoddy said. “But even at that, you have to have someone in the seat who is navigating the course. This started before I became a council representative. They’ve been working on it for a while.

“In every town hall meeting that I’ve ever had, one of the big things that was always talked about was the fire training facility and getting those rail cars removed from Stamper Park. ... As we continue work on this bond election, there has to be someone to navigate the course. I would never take full credit because this was a collective effort, but I very much look forward to continuing the work we have started.”

Early voting for the May 1 election begins Monday.

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