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Vienna says ‘no’ to political campaign rally at firehouse

VIENNA — City council members here rejected a request by a local resident to hold a campaign rally at a city-owned fire station at Monday’s meeting of the Vienna City Council.

Mayor Hobby Stripling told council members that a private citizen had contacted the city, “to know if the fire station could be made available for a campaign rally.”

Stripling said he told the resident the issue would have to be brought up for approval by the city council.

“I think we need to be very careful how we handle these requests,” he said.

“I think we should try to stay away from that,” Councilman Randall Almond said.

“I agree,” Councilwoman Beth English echoed.

“Politics in Washington are nasty and we don’t want to let them make it nasty down this way,” Mayor pro tem Walter Brown said with a chuckle.

City Attorney Verlin Brown noted that, politics aside, the request brings up a serious public safety issue.

If there is a fire or a robbery in Vienna while the fire station or the police station is in use for a social occasion of any kind, then it could inhibit a quick response to an emergency, he said.

It was unclear who contacted the city about possibly using the fire station to host a campaign function, nor on which campaign’s behalf the request was made.

The request to use the fire station died without a motion from the council.

Janet Joiner, the city’s director for community development and Vienna Main Street noted two economic indicators that demonstrate the city’s economy is improving.

“I just want you to notice that the total [number of building] permits issued in 2017 were 59, and this year — just through September the 30th — we’ve already issued 74. I think that’s a good sign of a slowly improving local economy,” Joiner said.

“Another good sign is our august unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, and that’s the lowest it’s been in many, many years. Vienna has the second-best unemployment rate in the River Valley economic development area,” Joiner added. “We are only second to Harris County.”