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Two incumbents retain seats in Martinsburg election

June 09, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Four votes separated a long-time Martinsburg City Council member from his opponent in Tuesday's city election with 14 challenged ballots remaining to be counted.

In the Ward 5 race, incumbent Glenville Twigg received 45 votes, while Frank "Tex" Idoni received 49, according to complete, but unofficial results.

City Recorder Sharon Flick could not say how many of the challenged ballots will affect the Ward 5 race, since some are from voters who might have cast a ballot in the wrong precinct.

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The challenged ballots either will be accepted or rejected during the election canvass, scheduled for Monday.

In the only other contested race, for two at-large seats, both incumbents were easily re-elected.

Donald Anderson, a 14-year council member, received 511 votes. Gregg Wachtel, who served from 1992 to 1996 and since 2000, received 500 votes. Both are Democrats.

Challenger LaRue Frye, a Republican, received 387 votes.

Of the city's 9,712 registered voters, 897 - less than 10 percent - turned out at the polls.

When reached at home Tuesday night and told of the results, Idoni's first words were: "Praise the Lord."

Idoni, who moved to Martinsburg two years ago, did not put up a single campaign sign or spend a nickel on the race. Instead he went door-to-door, talking to his neighbors.

"After his (Twigg's) terms in office I think people were displeased," Idoni said.

"I just prayed and put it in His hands to change people's hearts," said Idoni, a devout Christian.

Although Idoni collected more than 100 signatures to run, only 25 - the exact number needed for a candidate's name to be placed on the ballot - turned out to be valid, he said.

"God wanted me on the ballot," he said.

Twigg, who has served on the council for 14 years, attributed the Ward 5 results to low voter turnout and his recent preoccupation with Twiggy's, a restaurant/convenience store he opened in December.

Working with his wife at Twiggy's prevented Twigg from going door-to-door and also meant some phone calls from residents went unanswered, he said.

He said he plans to concentrate on his business and may consider running one day for a city or county seat.

"I've got politics in my blood and I'm really going to miss it," Twigg said. "I certainly wish the new council and this community all the best."

Two of the city's 12 precincts make up Ward 5.

Frye, whose defeat will not be altered by the challenged ballots, also wished the best for the new council. She said she will continue to work for issues that made up her campaign, including historic preservation, revitalizing the downtown to make it more business-friendly, and ensuring people who are contributing to the community have a say in government.

She said she was disappointed, especially for those who helped her campaign.

The mayor and three council members ran unopposed.

Mayor George Karos received 754 votes. Councilman Richard Yauger, whose ward contains two precincts, received 81 votes. Councilman Max Parkinson, whose ward contains four precincts, received 294 votes. Councilman Roger Lewis, whose ward contains two precincts, received 91 votes. All are Democrats.

Councilman Chris Baker, a Democrat, did not seek re-election. The only person to run for his seat, Shari Knadler Persad, a Republican, received 135 votes.

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