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Council moves to censure fellow member

October 17, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Calling his comments slanderous and suggesting that maybe it is time for him to resign, Charles Town City Council members Monday night agreed to draw up a resolution censuring council member Matt Ward over comments he has made about the council and the city administration.

Ward has been outspoken about his concerns that Charles Town not be overwhelmed by development and he frequently asks in-depth questions about annexations and other projects being brought before the council.

Council members have said that Ward has implied that a majority of council members are controlled by developers and several council members lashed out at Ward over his comments during Monday's regular council meeting at Zion Episcopal Church.

The meeting was moved to the church because of flooding conditions at City Hall over the weekend.

Council member Don Clendening said Ward made comments about council members being controlled by developers during an Oct. 4 segment on radio station WRNR in Martinsburg, W.Va.

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Clendening read a three-page statement criticizing the public attacks and "slanderous public statements" that have been made by Ward.

"I have committed no acts of wrongdoing," Clendening said. "I have stated previously and have re-emphasized since, that I have no political debt to any friend, relative, developer or anyone else," Clendening said.

Clendening said he always believed that the city must find ways to expand its economic base and that the city needs modern commercial outlets and modern job opportunities.

Clendening said he acknowledges that there are some people in the city who have a "no-growth" attitude but he is convinced that the group "in no way" comes close to representing the longer term desires of the community.

Council member Amy Schmitt also read a statement regarding Ward's radio interview, saying she has received campaign contributions from development interests but saying that she does not support development interests based on campaign contributions.

Schmitt said council members are elected to do a job for city residents, "not to bad-mouth and stonewall each other on city business."

Schmitt told Ward that maybe it's time for him to resign if he can't work with the rest of council.

Council member Geraldine Willingham said Ward thinks he is smarter than other members of council.

"Did it ever occur to you that you could be wrong? I, too, am tired of it," Willingham said.

Willingham made a motion to have a resolution written that censures Ward from making more of his comments in public. Council members passed it.

Willingham said after the meeting that the council has the authority to take such a measure. "Cleared it with the lawyer," Willingham said.

Ward, who was at the meeting, said he appreciated the views.

"I pray for everyone of you as much as I can," Ward said.

But Ward was not apologetic for his actions and said he "calls things as I see them."

Ward said the issues he is concerned about as a council member is part of his minority voice on the council.

"That is a part of politics. I will stand behind my words as being truthful and heartfelt. I'm not going to resign from this office," Ward said.

In reference to Ward's comments about politics, Mayor Peggy Smith said she likes to think of herself as a public servant and not as a politician.

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