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Former planning board member runs for Berkeley County Commissio

January 28, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A former member of the Berkeley County Planning Commission who was praised for challenging the status quo during his tenure announced his candidacy Thursday for the Berkeley County Commission.

Richard N. Talbott, 49, of 2818 Runnymeade Road in Gerrardstown, W.Va., filed as a Democrat.

"I'm inspired (to run) by the lack of attention being given to the public," Talbott said in a brief interview. "I'm going to run as a citizen."

Talbott readily admitted he wasn't very "politically correct," and only would promise that he wouldn't be the typical county commissioner.

"This county - it's a runaway train right now," Talbott said.

Talbott said ethics and "open-door government" are primary issues in his campaign, which he vowed would be done the "old-fashioned way."

In September 2007, Talbott was lauded by a group of northern Berkeley County residents for often being the lone vote against development projects that had met the county's requirements.

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Talbott often justified his vote by citing governing code that indicated project approvals be based on residents' "health, safety and welfare," but county ordinance failed to define the phrase.

That justification now is part of a case pending in Berkeley County Circuit Court that involves a proposed residential subdivision in northern Berkeley County that the current planning commission denied because of safety concerns.

Attorneys for the developer and the county have said the project, Waterfall Farm Estates, meets county requirements.

Talbott is the second Democrat to file for the county commission race. He joins Anthony J. "Tony" Petrucci in seeking the party's nomination in the May 13 primary election.

Petrucci and incumbent county commission President Steven C. Teufel, both of Martinsburg, filed last week. Teufel, a Republican, is seeking a second six-year term.

Talbott operates a beef cattle farm and aerial photography business. He also served 20 years in the military, 16 of them as a member of the Air National Guard.

He and his wife, Christie, have two sons, ages 17 and 15.

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