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Eight file for Martinsburg offices on first day

March 02, 2000

Mayor Earnest SparksBy ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The two candidates for councilman in the city's second ward took different approaches to getting in the race Wednesday, when filing for the June election began.

Martinsburg Mayor Earnest Sparks held a press conference in his City Hall office. Before a half-dozen members of the media, Sparks said he will forego another term as mayor so he can run for one of the seven seats on the City Council.

By the time Sparks spoke, Councilman Richard Yauger had already declared his bid for re-election in the second ward.

In fact, Yauger was at City Recorder Sharon Flick's office before it opened at 8 a.m.

"God gave me the ability to get up this morning, so I went down there and got it over with," said Yauger, who encouraged other citizens to enter the race, but "not too many."

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Sparks said other council members should follow his lead in taking "self-interest" out of government.

Rapid growth, including the city's roads and sewers, and the economic repercussions of the B&O Roundhouse project will be key issues in the election, he said.

Sparks, who was a councilman in the second ward from 1990 to 1992, is backing Councilman George Karos for mayor. Karos submitted his petition for the seat on Wednesday.

Yauger said he and Sparks have disagreed at times, but he expects a fair race. "I have no animosity toward the mayor, and I hope he has none towards me," Yauger said, adding, "We're both interested in the progression of the roundhouse."

Candidates for city offices have the entire month of March to file their petitions, but eight of them chose the first day.

Yauger said Councilman Oden Barrett, from the fourth ward, was right behind him at Flick's office with his petitions.

The other four candidates to turn in petitions Wednesday were: Councilman Merle B.I. Butts, from the first ward; Roger Lewis, running for council in the fourth ward; Kimber White, running for an at-large council seat; and Gregg Wachtel, also running for an at-large seat.

Flick said this is the second time the city has used the petition process. The first time, four years ago, candidates didn't rush to submit petitions on the first day, she said.

The salaries are $500 a month for mayor and $200 a month for council members, Flick said. The terms are four years.

To run for mayor, a candidate must collect the signatures of 50 people registered to vote in the city. The council candidates must collect 25 signatures. If the seat is in one of the city's five wards, the signatures must come from that ward.

The upcoming election will include a referendum on continuing to fund nine police officers and equipment for them.

Flick said members of the Republican and Democratic executive committees will be decided, too. For each party, voters will select one man and one woman in each of the five wards, as well as a man and a woman for at-large positions.

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