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Petition calls for Sparks to quit

February 19, 1998

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A member of Martinsburg's affirmative action committee has vowed to present petitions calling for the mayor's resignation at every council meeting until Earnest Sparks resigns or completes his term.

It's the latest turn in an ongoing debate about Sparks' leadership skills. His opponents say he's domineering and prone to temper tantrums and blame him for the resignations of Police Chief Wayne Cleveland and former City Manager Phil Hertz.

But his supporters say he's done more than any previous mayor by organizing a drug task force, promoting minority hiring and increasing salaries of city employees.

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Richard Anderson, of Martinsburg, presented a petition bearing 85 names at Martinsburg's City Council meeting Thursday night, asking the mayor to resign.

"He's a control freak," Anderson said.

But other members of the affirmative action committee said they support the mayor, and the opinions of two of its members are not the opinions of the group. Several others also spoke out in Sparks' defense.

Charles Logan, committee chairman, said he couldn't understand why two members have come out against Sparks, considering his efforts in minority hiring.

Fellow committee member Hubert Smith, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., said his problems with Sparks have nothing to do with race.

"What we're trying to say here is it seems to me it would be easier to have another mayor instead of hiring another city manager, another police chief," Smith said.

He said he did not believe it was accurate to credit only Sparks for Martinsburg's accomplishments.

"I think everything that's been accomplished has been accomplished by the mayor and council," Smith said.

Anderson said he has more than 300 signatures so far, and will present more at the next council meeting.

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