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Catlett named mayor in Hedgesville

October 05, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Mary Sue Catlett, a member of Hedgesville Town Council for more than 20 years, accepted the nomination of mayor late Wednesday evening, meaning town leaders will now have to fill her post.

Councilman Nicholas J. Hengmihle, the only other candidate to express a clear interest in the position, said he was resigning from his seat and walked out of an executive session apparently after not being chosen.

Catlett, 51, was nominated by council members Peggy Gano and Cheryl Young, who seconded the nomination after a consensus was reached. Councilman James Poisal was absent.

"Ms. Mayor sign your first ordinance please," Town Recorder Terri Miskovsky said after the executive session was adjourned. Miskovsky had been acting as mayor since Charles E. Mason resigned in August to accept a professional opportunity with JP Morgan Chase & Co.

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Mason was the town's first black mayor and the first in Berkeley County.

Town leaders did not swear Catlett in as the mayor, acting on the belief the oath she took when elected in 2005 would suffice. The ordinance Catlett signed was for annexation of a less-than-half acre parcel already partially in town limits.

Among other issues, Catlett said she felt capable of helping resolve conflicts and town matters in an "orderly fashion" and would like to have the town's zoning ordinance she helped write in 1995 enforced fairly.

Catlett also said she hopes state lawmakers empower small towns with more tools to generate revenue and eliminate the business and occupation (B&O) tax, which she said is one of the very few sources municipalities are able to tap.

"It is a very unfair tax," Catlett said.

After 20 years of service on Town Council, Catlett decided not to run for re-election in 2000, but then easily won election four years later.

A lifelong resident of the historic town, Catlett owns a cellular communication business with her husband, Dennis Donaldson, a former councilman and a mayoral candidate in the 2005 election.

Catlett's brother, Stephen, is the executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board.

According to the town's charter, a vacancy must be filled by appointment of the council and the individual must be a resident for at least 60 days and eligible to vote. Catlett's replacement on the council would be expected to serve until July 1, 2009.

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