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Crowded field for Charles Town Council race

May 14, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town's city election on May 24 is shaping up as a lively contest.

Seven candidates for four council seats are pushing for a variety of platforms, from continued revitalization of downtown to a professional approach to town business that won't "embarrass" the city.

City council meetings have been contentious at times in recent years as council members have wrestled with growth issues and other controversies, like an attempt to censure one council member over comments he made on a local radio station regarding council members and developers.

In the May 24 race, Mark Meredith will square-off against Ann Paonessa for the Ward III council seat, Ruth McDaniel is unopposed for the Ward I seat, incumbent Tim Robinson will face MaryLois Gannon-Miller for the Ward II seat, and Michael Slover will run against Lacie Mumaw for the Ward IV seat.

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City council terms are four years and the pay is $2,400 a year.

The seats belonging to Mayor Peggy Smith and council members Amy Schmitt, Sandy Slusher McDonald, Don Clendening and Geraldine Willingham are not up until 2009.

Voting on election day will be conducted from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Charles Town Visitors Center beside the Jefferson County Courthouse on George Street.

Early voting has been under way since May 4 at city hall at the intersection of George and Washington streets and will conclude May 21.

Ward III
Mark Meredith

Mark Meredith and Lacie Mumaw announced in a press statement that they will be running as a team because they agree on most issues and the believed it would be economically advantageous for them to run together.

In a press statement from Meredith, Meredith said he and Mumaw will not make commitments to special interest groups, including groups having a pro-growth or no-growth stance.

"We pledge to be professional, and not to embarrass the city of Charles Town and city council in the media. If there are disagreements on council, we pledge to work them out professionally with our colleagues on city council," according to the statement.

Meredith and Mumaw said their campaign also will be issue oriented.

"While some residents seem to focus on one major issue to stir voters' emotions, we won't. We are aware of the concerns that face the City of Charles Town due to growth, and will evaluate those issues on a case by case basis as they come before city council," according to their statement.

Meredith and Mumaw said they will manage the city as a business, will always try to do the "right thing" and will promote a business-friendly atmosphere for Charles Town. The candidates will also review all proposals before council and determine whether it is important to protect the past while helping the city to move forward.

The two candidates said they want more police on the streets, more recreation for children, to reinvigorate the Charles Town neighborhood watch program and propose working with other government officials to buy about 100 acres to establish a veterans cemetery so veterans can be laid to rest locally if they wish.

Mumaw, of 112 Court Street, is a lifelong resident of Charles Town and has a nursing degree from the Washington County Hospital School of Nursing. Mumaw was been in the health-care field for 40 years and worked at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.

Meredith, 52, of 536 S. Seminary St., has lived in town for several years. Meredith, who holds an assistant chief position for a federal government agency, is on the city's planning commission.

Ann Paonessa

Paonessa, a 10-year resident of town, said she will be sensitive to preserving the historical nature of downtown and wants to revitalize the downtown district. Paonessa said she also wants to work with county government on growth issues and wants to see a "graceful growth" pattern for the city.

"By making already-approved developments and downtown redevelopment projects a priority, we can plan to grow gracefully, from a position of strength, and preserve the very unique, historic character of Charles Town that attracts new residents," Paonessa said in campaign material.

Paonessa is an active member of the community, serving as a co-owner of a commercial property downtown, a member of the city parks and recreation commission and a founding board member of Friends of Happy Retreat, an organization set up to acquire Happy Retreat, the home of Charles Town's founder, Charles Washington.

Paonessa said her work in the city has given her insight into the major issues facing the community.

Paonessa, 37, of 536 S. Mildred St., has a work history that includes two years as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Panhandle and three years as associate editor for a trade magazine.

Ward I
Ruth McDaniel

A former member of the city's planning commission, McDaniel said she wants to see that the African American and senior citizen communities have a voice in city government.

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