Ward retains council seat in Charles Town

May 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Matt Ward, the Charles Town City Council member who has been an outspoken supporter of smart growth policies and has pushed for a multimillion dollar downtown revitalization, pulled out a narrow victory over Don Clendening in Thursday's municipal election.

In the race for the council's Ward III seat, Ward collected 212 votes compared to the 191 garnered by Clendening, past president of the Independent Fire Co. and an active community member.

McHale's Emporium, a downtown gift shop, turned into a celebration center Thursday night as Ward supporters hugged each other and cheered the news.


"All of us agree you stood for the right things. We need people who are doers," city resident Dennis Kordyak told Ward.

Kordyak was among a group of Ward's supporters who stood on city streets during the day encouraging motorists to vote for Ward.

Ward, a Washington, D.C., attorney who helps cities with revitalization projects, thanked his family and friends for their support.

"Charles Town is such a wonderful place to live and I'm glad I've gotten the nod from the people to move this town forward. I think this is a call for progress and for preserving the quality of life in Charles Town," Ward said.

Clendening said he ran for council because there are residents in town with various problems but they are not getting the attention they deserved.

Clendening defended himself from criticism from Ward, who said Clendening was recruited by "cronies" who are pro-development and want to control city hall.

Clendening said Thursday night he was not surprised by Ward's victory, saying the one-term councilman had a strong support base.

"I really thought there would be a bigger turnout," said Clendening, adding there are about 1,829 registered voters in the city. Only 421 ballots were cast, according to election results.

Three other council members ran unopposed in the race. Those council members and their vote totals were Bill Jordan, 215; Randy Breeden, 223; and John Ward, 220.

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