Two announce commission candidacy

January 06, 1998

Two announce commission candidacy


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A local businessman and a former commission member will vie for the seat held by Berkeley County Commissioner Jim Smith.

C.B. "Butch" Pennington, 50, a Democrat from Martinsburg, plans to make his official announcement Monday on the courthouse steps. The Rev. John E. Wright, 64, a Republican from Bunker Hill, W.Va., said Monday he is also planning to run.

Smith, who Monday was reappointed as president of the commission, was in Charleston, W.Va., Monday afternoon and could not be reached for comment. The Democrat is in his first six-year term on the commission.


"I've talked with Jim and he knows my intentions," Pennington said Sunday.

"The biggest reason I'm running is I've entered a stage of my life where I'd like to give back to the community," Pennington said. He said he's been in business in the county for 25 years and is the owner of Pennington's Tire & Auto Service and Pennington's Used Cars & Trucks in Martinsburg, along with liquor stores in Martinsburg and Inwood, W.Va.

"I'd like to shore up the bridge between county and city government. I think that's been neglected," Pennington said. He also said county government should be able to hold the line on property taxes because of the county's increasing population.

"I believe in being very thrifty and spending money the right way the first time," he said. He said his business experience would be an asset in government and planning for the future growth of the county.

If elected, Pennington also said he will be accessible to residents.

"I want to hear their problems," he said.

Wright is returning to politics after 20 years on the commission. The pastor of the Inwood United Methodist Church was defeated by Pat Murphy in 1990 "by one-tenth of 1 percent," he said. He narrowly lost the GOP primary in 1996 in an attempt to regain his seat.

"I feel I need little on-the-job training because I've been there," Wright said Monday night. During his years on the commission, he said he and other commissioners created an industrial development authority, an airport authority and a county building commission.

"We made it easier for successive commissions to bring to fruition the good things that are going on now," Wright said of the commercial and industrial development the county has seen in recent years.

Wright said he also helped secure funding for the sheriff's department and Office of Emergency Services buildings.

He would also like to see efforts to develop what he called "the silent industry" - history and tourism. He cited Washington County, Md., as a community that has turned its history into tourist dollars.

Wright noted that the county has a rich Civil War history.

"I think its something that would bring the coffers of Berkeley County merchants more than $1 million a year," Wright said.

Smith's seat on the three-member commission is the only one up for election this year.

Candidates have from Monday to Feb. 5 to file for the May 12 primary.

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