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Five file for open Berkeley County Commission seat

January 26, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The field of candidates vying for the single open seat on the three-member Berkeley County Commission has grown to five just one day before the filing period is set to expire Friday.

Four Republicans and one Democrat will seek the seat being vacated by Commissioner Howard Strauss, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election.

Republican Bill Stubblefield, the chairman of the Board of Directors for the county's public service water district, said he will announce his candidacy today during a public reception at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg. The reception will run from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., according to a press statement released by the candidate.

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Stubblefield, who lives in northern Berkeley County, called "unprecedented growth" the pre-eminent issue for Berkeley County, which he said must be addressed with good planning.

"We need to avoid being about crisis management and we need to start addressing issues today so they won't be tomorrow's problems," said Stubblefield, a founder and the first president of Berkley Community Pride and chairman of the advisory committee for the county's revision of its comprehensive plan. Stubblefield also served as co-chairman of the county's Source Water Protection Study and as chairman of the county's Water Advisory Committee.

Stubblefield is joined by Republicans Ted Morgan, Bob Grove and Marty Kilmer.

Kilmer is a political newcomer and lifelong Berkeley County resident who has volunteered as a poll worker and assisted with elections for the county clerk's office.

A federal government retiree serving with the 167th Air National Guard in Martinsburg and a resident of Inwood, W.Va., Kilmer called infrastructure improvements, such as roads, one of the county's most pressing needs.

"I'm in a jam every day," Kilmer said of traffic congestion in southern Berkeley County.

Grove said he, too, is concerned about traffic and the quality of the county's roads. The former board chairman for the county's sewer district and two-time president of the local Republican Club, Grove said road improvements are one of six issues he'd address on the commission. Grove also said he supports property tax breaks for senior citizens, improving pay for county workers, adopting sensible growth policies and putting questions about a five-member commission and zoning to referendum.

"If our growth is pushing us into that direction and the citizens want it, then we can try to do the best job possible," said Grove, who retired last year from a career in construction management.

Grove lists among his achievements the preparing of financing for the county's sewer district expansion.

Calling continued growth essential to the county's well-being, Stubblefield said the county needs to adopt smart growth policies that are consistent with infrastructure, such as roads, schools, parks and recreation and water availability.

"Growth is important to the economy and a community that doesn't grow is a community that eventually dies," Stubblefield said. "Without strategies to adapt to the change we can not continue to grow and prosper as a community."

Stubblefield also said he would work to expand the availability of affordable housing, improve the county's job base, and help provide relief from rising property taxes for senior citizens.

The field's lone Democrat, Brown provided a press statement that lists experience in banking, business ownership, accounting and real estate. He includes 14 years as a licensed Realtor, five years as director of the Eastern Panhandle Board of Realtors and three years as director with the West Virginia Board of Realtors among his experience. He was unable to be reached for an interview.

Morgan, a 12-year member of the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Board of Parks and Recreation, was unavailable for comment.

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