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Martinsburg leaders respond in wake of Baker sentence

May 09, 2001

Martinsburg leaders respond in wake of Baker sentence



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


Martinsburg city leaders said Tuesday they hope a young city councilman sentenced to 10 days in jail for driving without a license will learn from his actions and reflect on their effects on his life and political career.

Several officials said they hope Councilman Christopher Baker will serve his time for a second offense of driving with no operator's license, and then move ahead with what could be a good future of public service.

"I don't think it reflects on the City Council," said Mayor George Karos. "I think it reflects on him. He should pay his dues for something he did and move on."

"I think, in a sense, the young gentleman should re-evaluate what he's been doing and where he's been, both for himself and his constituents," said Councilman Richard Yauger. "He's got to decide, 'What will this do for my political career?' He has to answer to himself, his council and his constituents."

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Baker, 24, was arrested June 27, 2000, by Officer John Sherman of the Martinsburg Police Department. He was cited for having no operator's license. He had no license because he had five unpaid citations, according to court records.

Monday, he entered a plea agreement before Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra Miller. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with 20 days suspended in the sentence. He will serve the time over six weekends in May and June, put in 100 hours of community service, pay $67 in court costs and remain on probation for one year, according to the records.

Baker did not return phone calls for comment.

"I hope he does his penalty and gets on with his life and his council duties," said Councilman Gregg Wachtel.

Wachtel added, "It certainly doesn't reflect well on the council" to have something like this happen.

"Certainly he's not the first elected official who's ever had a run-in with the law. He's certainly young enough to get on with things. You can do a lot of good for your community."

Baker was elected in a close vote last spring, ousting incumbent Merle Butts. Baker must run again in 2004 if he wants another term.

Councilman Glenville Twigg said Baker's future is unclear.

"As far as council members go, I think every council member will continue to work with him," Twigg said. "As far as his political career, that's up to his constituents. He's a young man. He's got time to get on the right path. When you are a public person, especially an elected official, you've really got to watch what you get into."

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