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13 seek seats in Hedgesville town election on Tuesday

June 06, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - A major road - W.Va. 9 - runs through the middle of the small Berkeley County town of Hedgesville. Many people believe the town is as divided on a political level as it is geographically.

They cite a variety of reasons for the chasm - from personality conflicts and personal attacks to questionable procedures.

One clue of the dissatisfied community - which consists of about 240 people - might be the fact that 13 people are running in Tuesday's election.

Nine people are running for five Town Council seats, two are running for recorder and two are running for mayor.

Incumbents who are seeking re-election are Town Council members Peggy Gano, Jim Poisal and Carl Skillman. Current Town Council member Dennis Donaldson is running for mayor, while current Mayor Mary Beth Good is seeking a Town Council seat, as is current Recorder Ron Good.

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Town Council member Robin McCants is not seeking re-election.

Candidates do not run with a party affiliation.

Starting July 1, the mayor will be paid $850 a year, the recorder will receive $750 a year and Council members will receive $50 for each Town Council meeting they attend.

Along with being asked to provide background information, each candidate was asked the same question: Which two issues do you believe are the most important facing the town, and how would you address them?

Mayor candidates

Dennis Donaldson

Dennis Donaldson said a major business, which he declined to publicly name, is considering leaving the town's limits. Without that tax money, the town needs to ensure it remains fiscally responsible without raising taxes.

Taxes have not been raised since Donaldson became a Town Council member 20 years ago, he said.

Secondly, because of increased growth Donaldson believes a law enforcement presence is needed in the town to monitor traffic and "juvenile infractions."

He said he wants to explore partnership possibilities with state and county police agencies.

Hedgesville does not have its own police force.

Donaldson, 52, has lived in Hedgesville his entire life, and is a fourth-generation town resident.

He and his wife, Mary Sue Catlett, who is seeking a Town Council seat, own Cell-Page Communications, which provides cell phone and satellite television services.

Charles Mason

Charles Mason, who has lived in Hedgesville his entire life and can also trace his family back in the town for four generations, believes Hedgesville is now split.

He said he wants to get town residents together and ensure mutual trust and respect are present.

Mason also wants to look at a revitalization plan, a maintenance plan and examine how such information is disclosed. Personal opinions brought to Town Council meetings need to be left at the door, he said.

One of his first duties, should he be elected, would be to call a town meeting and ask residents to tell elected officials what they are doing correctly, and what is not being done that should be, Mason said.

Mason, 54, is a write-in candidate. He said he had to file as a write-in candidate when he missed the filing deadline.

He works for JPMorgan Chase in Frederick, Md.

Council candidate

Mary Sue Catlett

Mary Sue Catlett said that with the current growth in Berkeley County, the town of Hedgesville needs to decide whether it wants to try to expand its boundaries to absorb growth.

She said the town must decide whether to expand and provide necessary services that come with growth, or remain the quaint town it now is.

"I think it's crucial with growth that Hedgesville remain Hedgesville and keep its identity," she said, noting that it is only one of two incorporated towns in the county. The other is Martinsburg.

Retaining the small businesses now in the town, and attracting additional businesses also is important, she said. Additional businesses could enable the town to continue providing services, such as snow removal and maintenance of town property, without raising taxes.

Catlett, 49, is a lifelong town resident who served as a Town Council member from 1981 to 2001.

Catlett is co-owner of Cell-Page Communications.

Peggy Gano

Peggy Gano said personality conflicts have caused the town to change from what it once was. New residents need to be welcomed to the town, not pressured to move, she said.

"Just try to treat everybody with respect," she said. "Just trying to work together is the most important thing."

She also said the town needs to look good and needs to be run smoothly.

Gano has lived in Hedgesville her entire life, and has been on the council for the past four years.

Gano, 61, is retired.

Mary Beth Good

Good said she wants to address a lack of communication in the town. Current council members live in different areas of the town, but Good said when she asked them to speak with their neighbors and bring back any concerns, that it did not happen.

Secondly, she said a big issue will be keeping the existing library building secure once the library relocates to a former water plant building in town.

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