Three seek two at-large seats on City Council

June 04, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

Revitalizing downtown Martinsburg, improving streets and neighborhoods and implementing a comprehensive plan are some of the issues three candidates seeking two City Council seats hope to address.

In Tuesday's city election, only the race for two-at large seats will be contested. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Mayor George Karos and four current council members - Ward 2 Councilman Richard Yauger, Ward 3 Councilman Max Parkinson, Ward 4 Councilman Roger Lewis and Ward 5 Councilman Glenville Twigg - are running unopposed. All are Democrats.


Because Ward 1 Councilman Chris Baker decided not to seek re-election, the only person who filed to run for his seat - Shari Knadler Persad, a Republican - will win it.

Those seeking the two at-large seats are Council members Donald Anderson and Gregg Wachtel, along with challenger LaRue Frye.

City council members serve four-year terms and are paid $200 per meeting. The mayor receives $500 for each meeting.

Donald Anderson

Donald Anderson, a lifelong Martinsburg resident, said continuing with street improvement programs, finding a way to eliminate storm water problems and providing necessary equipment to city departments are important issues.

Anderson, who declined to provide his age, has been an at-large Council member for 14 years.

Another important project is restoring the old hotel across from the Roundhouse, a project that includes building a pedestrian bridge to connect the two historic structures, he said.

Although Anderson, a Democrat, said Martinsburg may never achieve the prosperity it saw in its heyday decades ago, improving the downtown is still possible. Visitors especially would be attracted to specialty shops, he said.

Developing the Linear Park, a trail that would follow the winding Tuscarora Creek, is another objective, Anderson said.

A retired educator, Anderson volunteers with Meals on Wheels and serves on several boards and committees. He began his teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse in 1949 and worked his way up to Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Berkeley County.

He cited as one of his achievements the street improvement done every year.

"I've been dedicated. I've watched the dollar sign. I'm conservative," Anderson said of his time in office, adding that he missed only one Council meeting in the last 14 years.

LaRue Frye

LaRue Frye said if she's elected, her priorities would include revitalizing the downtown area to make it more business-friendly, offering incentives for historic preservation and helping to create safe streets and neighborhoods.

"As an extension I'd like to see the people in the neighborhoods that are productive, that are rehabilitating houses, that are trying to keep their neighborhood free of drugs and disruptive elements, have a greater role in that neighborhood's safety and appearance," she said. Such people should have a say in local government and should have their questions or problems addressed.

Frye, a Republican who declined to provide her age, grew up in Hampshire County, W.Va., and moved to Martinsburg 16 years ago.

Frye owns Boydville Inn, a historic home on South Queen Street that is now a bed and breakfast, along with two properties on East Martin Street.

Downtown businesses started to noticeably suffer after the Blue Ridge Outlets closed, but were declining years earlier, Frye said.

Bringing the downtown area back to life is possible, with city input and incentives, along with involvement from large-scale private developers, she said.

Free enterprise no longer can be counted upon, she said, adding that without assistance from the city, the outskirts of town will continue to encroach on residential areas.

Gregg Wachtel

Gregg Wachtel said his priorities include forming and implementing a comprehensive plan for the city and preserving and expanding parks and recreational opportunities.

Wachtel, 51, served as the Ward 1 representative from 1992 to 1996 and as an at-large representative since 2000.

A comprehensive plan will look at the city and its services and analyze how growth will affect them, Wachtel said. A consulting firm has been hired to put together the plan, which is expected to take about a year.

Wachtel, a Democrat, said he has been and always will be a supporter of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation.

He worked to keep Roush Field, a baseball field, as green space, and hopes an indoor aquatic facility can be built. Although he said the plan is in its infancy, talks have been held between City Hospital and the county Board of Education about opening an indoor pool.

Wachtel and Anderson split duties serving on the city's Economic Development Committee, which meets with people who are considering opening or relocating a business to the city.

Wachtel, a lifelong Martinsburg resident, is part-owner and the vice president of WRNR radio, a Martinsburg-based AM talk radio station.

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