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Ford pulls out of race for W.Va. House

March 31, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Morgan County Commissioner Robert L. "Bob" Ford, a Democratic candidate for the West Virginia Legislature's 51st District, announced Thursday he is withdrawing from the race.

"I see no point in running because Morgan County does not appear to want economic development, and I would not get the support from Morgan County citizens," Ford said.

"After working with Gov. (Joe) Manchin to try to bring economic development here with WVU Hospitals-East, it was turned down by the other commissioners," he said.

Manchin and the commissioners met last week to discuss the future of the county-owned War Memorial Hospital and a possible link with WVU Hospitals-East, which owns the hospitals in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

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After the meeting, Ford said Commissioners Glen Stotler and Tommy Swaim do not want to lose control of the hospital.

"There was no changing their minds," he said.

Ford said during his campaign for commissioner, "The lack of economic development would create a tax climate such as we have with high taxes. We need a balance of business development along with new housing."

"I have lived in Morgan County since 1981 and no governor has paid any attention to us until now," Ford said.

"Traffic and the roads is one reason why there is no economic development here. We had a door open with the governor," he said.

In January, Ford announced that Gov. Manchin would commit about $40 million in state funding to build the first phase of the proposed bypass on U.S. 522.

In return for the bypass commitment, Manchin would require the county to enter into talks with WVU Hospitals-East and come to an agreement that would bring Morgan County into the WVU Eastern Medical Group, Ford had said.

"I believe we are being unfair to the county," Ford said Thursday. "I will not give up the fight for WVU Hospitals-East if it qualifies for a vote by referendum. Let the people decide."

Ford's withdrawal leaves two Democratic candidates, Gary Lee Nelson and Charles Downey Evert, and three Republican candidates, Daryl E. Cowles, Abby Chapple and George L. Sneathen, in the race to replace Charles Trump, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election.

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