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Mayor says Charles Town making "big strides"

May 30, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Hilton

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - When J. Randolph Hilton was elected mayor of Charles Town in 1996, he inherited a town of 3,200 residents and problems that included a leaky water system and a controversial police department.

During Hilton's tenure, the town has formed a citizens advisory committee on the police department, hired a new police chief, refinanced the town's water and sewer bonds - saving hundreds of thousands of dollars - and begun to fix the leaking pipes.

"Overall, we've made some great strides," Hilton said.

Despite all that, Hilton, 49, says the formation of the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County earlier this year is the greatest thing to happen in Charles Town since he's been mayor.

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"It was done by the community at the citizens' initiative," Hilton said. "We just give it moral support. There's nothing more important to our town than our future generation, the youth."

Hilton and his wife, Victoria, have two children - Erin, 21, and Julia, 16.

Hilton defeated Mayor Rufus Park in 1996 to win his first term. He was unopposed in Thursday's election and now enters his second term.

The four Town Council candidates on the ballot - three incumbents and one newcomer - also ran unopposed.

"I realize in small towns all over the country it's hard to find people to run for office and I realize there are good people in town who could run for office. Hopefully it means people are pleased with the job we're doing," Hilton said.

"We have a diverse council and we don't always agree on everything, and that's good. We're respectful of each other's opinions and where we come out is a collaborative effort," Hilton said.

Hilton works as a labor relations adviser for the Montgomery County, Md., government and spends 21/2 hours a day commuting to work so he can live in Charles Town.

"This is a great place to live," he said.

Hilton said some people have claimed he cannot work so far away and still be an effective mayor.

But he said it is easy because each council member has an assigned task and the town has a good manager in Jane Arnett.

He said his interest in architecture and history got him involved in the town's politics.

He said he would like to see the town do more to preserve its architecture and educate the public about the town's history.

"I have a firm belief in the potential of this community," Hilton said.

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